Life as usual in Idomeni, which basically means to wait/line up for something: A new shirt, a hot tea, water, something to eat or just a shower (many, many people in Idomeni did not have a shower for days or even weeks). Apart from that, the sunshine is becoming more and more problematic, especially in the afternoon it is getting extremely hot now in Indomeni, even tough it is only the beginning of April. Places in the shadow are quite rare and people try to cover themselves as good as they could. Hard to imagine, what will happen in the camp when it will become much more hot in the next weeks. However, nearly nobody thinks about leaving the camp in Idomeni voluntarily. Quite the contrary: Today, we saw the first people setting up a small garden in front of their tent and since days a Western Union financial service is in operation in the village. And a side node: Business runs quite well in the nearest small town, Polykastro: Restaurants and cafés are locking for new staff because the entire day they are completely full with international volunteers.
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.