The camp in Kozani is located outside the town in a big sports hall. There are around 200 people currently living inside the stadium. The people have settled in different changing rooms and in tents on the big main court. A women, who lives there since three weeks with her three children exclaimed: “We cannot stand this situation, not knowing for how long it will go on like this. My husband is waiting in Germany and I cannot go to him. What is happening to us right now is not human. There needs to be a political solution for us. We need to live a life in dignity!”
Y. a 16-year old Syrian girl whom we already met in Idomeni explained her situation. She arrived in Greece with her 18-years old sister and her 13 years old brother in February, when the Balkan corridor was still open. Her twin brother has already travelled to Germany earlier and is waiting to reunite there with them. The three siblings went to Idomeni, but only very few people could still pass and eventually the corridor was closed. So they could no longer travel on. After spending two more weeks in miserable conditions in the camp in Idomeni, they decided to try and find better shelter. They went with an official bus to another camp and ended up in Kozani. “The situation here is better than in Idomeni, at least we do not have to sleep outside in the wind and the mud. But we don’t want to stay here. What is going to happen with us here?” Y., who took over the responsibility for her siblings, is trying to find a possible way for them to reach her twin brother in Germany.
So far, the people in the camp have not received any information about their legal options from any official side. They were told, however, that they will be moved from Kozani soon, as the sport hall needs to be used for an international volleyball tournament in June. Where and when they will be moved remains unclear.
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.