The situation in the camp hasn’t changed. People still hope for the border to open as there is no information given to anyone. For now the rain has stopped, but the camp is still very muddy and as soon as the rain starts again, it is impossible to walk and build up more tents.
It is outrageous that so many people who would so obviously be eligible for international protection are unable to access the most basic rights in this miserable setting. So much of the media focus has been on the very young who are stuck in the mud. But what also strikes us is that the elderly who made the dangerous journey to Greece are now trapped and have very little idea and means to continue on. For some, the simple act of walking is very hard. Whilst promises of free UNCHR buses have yet to materialise, the only place accessible by transport is Athens for 25euros per person with a private bus company. It is still extremely unclear how and even if one can access the other camps in the surroundings.
Meanwhile, Greekreporter.com reports that a violent eviction of the camp is not planned so far.
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.