The border is closed. People remain in Idomeni. They refuse to leave, they refuse to take the border closure for granted. Rain kept on falling all morning. The situation keeps on deteriorating. The distribution of non-food items is not working. People remain in semi-flooded, muddy Idomeni in their soaked clothes. Locals are bringing clothes and food, small stalls have keep popping up in the vicinity of the camp. The ADM kitchen keeps on cooking 7000 meals a day. They enable the survival of people who have to endure the situation in the camp in Idomeni. “The border has to open again. They cannot leave us here like this. Maybe on the next meeting on the 17th”, one refugee stated.
Meanwhile, independent volunteers reported that the situation in the military-run camp in Cherso, Northern Greece, is equally terrible. The camp is crowded, the living conditions are very bad and the tents there are flooded as well.
In the evening, a big demonstration took place in Thessaloniki with around 1500 participants. People took the street in solidarity with the refugees and against the racist European migration policies that leave people to a slow death in camps like Idomeni.
With all the media outlets only focussing on the humanitarian crisis in Idomeni, it is often forgotten that this situation is totally manufactured political one. If there would be no border, there would be no humanitarian crisis.
On the 18th of November 2015, Slovenia closed its borders for refugees who are not from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Just a little later, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia also adopted this practice of segregation. There is little doubt about that this policy was pushed by the European Union as a starting point for slowing down or even stopping the flow over the Balkan route. Thousands of refugees were stuck in Eidomeni, Greece, and started to protest. The Moving Europe Bus was on the spot and reported live from the 22nd of November to the 11th of December 2015 – when the camp had been evicted. On the 5th of February 2016, we decided to restart our live-ticker as the new year has already seen several attempts from the European Union to slow down the migration movement towards Europe. Macedonia seems to become a key player in this strategy. For several weeks the Macedonian border authorities have slowed down the transit process. The predictable effect of this, given the high arrival numbers to the Greek islands, is that thousands are becoming stuck in Greece. On the 3th of February the Macedonian government announced its plans to strengthen border controls which will further reduce the speed of the transit process. In the meantime, the Greek authorities have established a new buffer zone near to Eidomeni. Since the camp at the border has already become highly overcrowded, there are fears that the violent scenes of last December in Eidomeni will be repeated. Therefore the authorities have decided that people should be kept at bay, at a gas station on the highway that is 20 km far away from the border (at Polykastro). For weeks migrants have had to stay there for hours under miserable conditions. Since the end of January the situation at the Greek border zone has escalated once more. There is only a trickle of people being let through to Macedonia and now people at the gas station have to wait for days before their buses finally leave towards the border. On the 3rd of February 2016 thousands of them decided not to wait any longer at the petrol station and started to walk towards the Macedonian border (#marchofhope 2). Further protests and tensions are to be expected. The Moving Europe Bus is on the spot since the 2nd of February and reports live from Polykastro and Eidomeni.