As journalists and indepedent observers are not let into the area of the camp in Idomeni, here Moving Europe is constantly collecting observations and information send by residents of the camp.
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.
Today, a band played in the camp in Idomeni. Other musicians from the camp joined spontaneously and songs in many different languages were presented.
The blockade on the highway at the petrol station in Polykastro continued the whole day. Trucks were not allowed to pass – cars could pass by. People showed banners addressing Germany to help them.
After we have been in Athens for some days, we are back in Idomeni now. Also there have been some changes in the team. However, the camp in Idomeni got much more structured and professionalised, as the ones of us who left Idomeni three weeks ago immediately recognized. Furthermore, there are much more big tents from MSF and small „private“ tents now then three weeks ago. The police is still present with some buses in the camp, but acts very passive, although the railway tracks are blocked since days.
During the day, more than 200 refugees blocked the highway E75 to Thessaloniki. The blockade took place in front of the informal camp at the Polykastro gas station (about 20 kilometres away from Idomeni/the border), where some thousand people are currently living. During the blockade, children were playing football on the highway. In the evening there were still some people and tents on the highway, but cars could pass by. Many people watched the football match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the shop of the gas station.
Close to the gas station in Polykastro there is the „official“ camp Nea Kavala, which is located on military ground. Visitors are not allowed to enter and the atmosphere is more tense than in Idomeni, due to police and military presence. Even from outside it is forbidden to take photos of the camp and we were told to leave the area immediately, even though we were not taking photos. Anyway, we will visit the other „official“ camps in Northern Greece the next days and report here.
The railway tracks were blocked for some hours again but in the afternoon trains could pass. Only a few people were allowed to pass today. It is estimated that there are between 11.000 and 15.000 people now in the camp. Nobody in the camp (including NGOs and Journalists) really knows and understands, who can pass at what time. We got the impression, that there is no logic behind or that this logic is changing every day. Therefore, it is not surprising that various rumours are circulating in the camp about the criteria for crossing the border/when it will be possible for whom. People are more and more frustrated. After some sunny days it started to rain in the evening. Some impressions of today:
Handing out the registration papers:
About 10.000 people are still stuck in Idomeni. People are given numbers, which are written on the back of their Greek registration papers. The same number is given to about 50 people. Today, several hundreds (~ 500) with numbers around 60 and an ID proving their Syrian or Iraqi nationality were allowed to cross. We talked to one Syrian, who showed us, that he received number 265 today. Due to new arrivals in Idomeni every day, it is therefore not to be expected, that the camp will get empty in the nearer future (if there is no eviction). Somehow it seems, that the border is only kept open for some hundred people every day to avoid a massive uprising, what somehow would be the logical consequence of total hopelessness. But seeing others who are allowed to pass, people still hope, it will be „their time“ sooner or later to pass through the gate to Macedonia. Consequently, the railway tracks are not blocked by protesters anymore, trains are passing trough the camp a few times a day. The last days the weather during daytime was quite good, but if it will start to rain and get colder again, the camp will turn into hell immediately.
Here a drone footage of the camp from today.
At the gate to Macedonia:
At the gate to Macedonia:
Some more impressions of the day in the camp:
24.00: Update: It’s not ten buses waiting, it’s twenty. Additional 1000 persons will have to sleep outside tonight.
23.00: The border crossing is still blocked by protestors. Greek police has completely left the border zone. Right now around ten buses are arriving. UNHCR reports that they have no clue how to accommodate the newly arriving persons. Obviously they have enough stored goods, but no staff to distribute it.
19.00: Still hundreds of protesters in front of the fence. The border crossing is blocked, nobody can pass right now. The camp is getting crowded as new people still arrive.
17.00: Protesters shout ‚Etihad‘ (United) to gather all nationalities in front of the fence.
16.00: Protesters have teared down the fences of the crosspoint. Situation tense. Greek police doesn’t intervene.
15.00: Hundreds gather at the crosspoint as rumours have spreaded that border would be opened in 2 hours. Macedonian police/army has strengthened its presence with water cannons and riot units. We have no confirmed information about border opening.
13.30: Hundreds of refugees tried to pass the fence at its end and just came back to the camp. They reported, that Macedonian army/police was entering Greek territory and shot on them with rubber bullets. Furthermore, they told about warning shots in the air.
13.20: Yesterday evening, about 30 buses arrived. This resulted in chaos this morning at the crossing point. The cage surrounding it, was destroyed.
21.00: After the strong demonstration this morning, there were several smaller protests and marches during the whole day inside the camp.
The announced Frontex officers have not arrived yet. They will have a spot right in the center of the complex.
After the police has increased security measures yesterday, now also some NGOs and volunteer groups are joining this discursive construction of a „danger zone“ in Idomeni by publishing travel warnings in social media.
When we left the camp around 30 coaches were waiting in front of the camp, bringing new people from the islands.
19.00: Solidarity initiatives held a demonstration tonight in Thessaloniki to support the protesting migrants stuck at Idomeni. More than 1000 participants were counted.
15.00: There were two more demonstrations. We have the impression, that there are more people in the camp today then in the days before. Furthermore, we were told, that FRONTEX will arrive in Eidomeni soon.
12.00: This morning, a strong and peaceful demonstration took place. Members of all blocked refugee groups participated. On the Macedonian side of the fence a water cannon was placed. We will upload photos & videos later.
Ticker News from
22.11.2015 – 28.11.2015
can be found here.