The camp in Doliana is close to the Albanian border in the very northwest of Greece. Around 200 people stay in a former music collage, which is very secluded in the forest. It´s a 10 minutes walk to the tiny village of Doliana with 140 inhabitants. Without registration no visitor is allowed to enter it, but the people can come and go as they want. However, there is no where really to go to. The Greek army from a nearby base is enforcing this procedure.
Talking to Kurdish women in front of the main gate made clear once again what the main problem is: They do not have any information about their rights; no information about how to claim asylum; no information about their right of family reunification if they have their husbands, wives or under aged children in Germany. As in most other camps, a lot of people in Doliana qualify for family reunification under the Dublin III accord. People have not yet tried to get an appointment with the asylum service via Skype, as they had no information how the procedure works. Applying for Asylum and family reunification is only possible if one gets an appointment via Skype. The Skype line however, is only open for one hour per week. In other camps we were told that it is nearly impossible to get through.
Doliana is exemplary very the very random standards of the Greek camps. In Katsikas an hour drive away, people have to sleep in tents on the rocky ground, have miserably sanitary installations, no shade, but a lot of snakes. In Doliana people stay in the old boarding school. Although 4 families – around 20 people – have to share a room and have no privacy, the living conditions are better than in many other camps in Greece.
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.