In the early morning hours, the people who have been blocking the highway all night decided to clear up their protest. They endured the cold and windy night on the street, making visible their anger with the hopeless situation they are submitted to.
All day, a heavy wind blew over Idomeni, taking with it several small tents. The strong wind makes moving around in the camp a torture. It was impossible to have a conversation outside, and inside the large tents the beating of the tent cover on the metal scaffold made a quiet conversation equally impossible. The harsh weather conditions together with uncertainty of what the best thing to do would be lies heavy over the people in the camp.
Nonetheless, some gathered on the train tracks and staged a small protest with slogans urging Europe to reopen the borders.
Meanwhile the long line of media vans that used to line up on the street towards the camp for the last three weeks have mostly disappeared. The state of exception that the international media was covering frenetically has turned in to normalised everyday life in the refugee camp Idomeni.
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.