After Macedonia closed down it’s borders for migrants to pass the situation for people searching asylum in northern Europe worsened a lot. The camp of Idomeni developed. Tragic pictures from Idomeni and the border made it to international media. On May 24th the Greek government started an operation relocating people from Idomeni to camps run by the government of Greece. People left the camp before the eviction was complete.
Smaller camps in the area
Refugees that made it to escape before the eviction process started set up new smaller camps in the surrounding area. One at an empty gas-station ‘Ekostation’ right off the highway housing approximately 1000 people according to activists on site. People from the camps kept trying to cross the border.
‘I have been to Macedonia seven times at least’ – refugee at BP camp
Journalists were warmly invited even though the situation for migrants is aweful. They feel stuck, want to leave the country and always live in fear of an eviction. Still they invited colleagues and me to have food with them after the sun had set – it’s ramadan. Whilst having dinner with them they told some small pieces of their stories. Nationalities are very various. Syrians trying to escape war, as well as Algerians trying to escape an …
‘oppressive government that wants you to work as much as you can, but not earn anything’ – asylum seeker from Algeria.
Even the little amount of food they have was shared. As we were on site the camp of Ekostation was already evicted and there were rumors about an eviction of BP and Hotel Ara.
Some said that they want to try another time to cross in the night. As we left the camp they were listening to music from their homecountries and discussing, joking and dancing. Still the mood was full of tension and insecurities
Eviction of Ekostation
The biggest of the three left camps was evicted on Monday June 13th. We arrived late to document any of the eviction. Police blocked the highway near Thessaloniki. We were told to take a rural road to pass by Ekostation. Over some fields we managed to reach the camp. A devastating picture of the camp was left.
The only people that were in the camp as we stopped by were refugees from a military camp, where the condtions are supposed to be very aweful, collecting leftovers before the Greek governments sends bulldozers to clean the shut down gas-station. On June 14th supporters from MedicinesSansFrontiers were collecting blankets. Other supporters were tearing down Ekokitchen that fed refugees in the camp.
Eviction of Hotel Ara- and BP-camp under exclusion of media
In the morning of June 14th the other two camps located near the highway were cleared. Police blocked media from reaching the camps. Supporters on site reported on the phone:
‘Everything is full of police. They arrived in the morning and are putting people into busses. We are asked to leave.’
After the highway was opened again we managed to stop at BP station. Working only with the phone, we captured the bulldozers entering the forest and riot police resting.
At Hotel Hara on the other side of the highway, there were still some people left.
Few People left at Hotel Hara:
After only few minutes of being on site at BP station and stepping out of the car civil police officers approached us. We were asked to leave and our ID’s were checked. Police and the Greek government are trying everything to prevent any media besides a government-close TV station to report about the situation.
— Reflektierter Bengel (@R_Bengel) 14. Juni 2016
All in all it’s unsure what happens to people. According to supporter on site they are brought to Vassiliki a camp located near Thessaloniki. Taking pictures in this government-run camp is not possible we have been told. Forgotten In Idomeni reported about neonazis on site:
— Forgotten in Idomeni (@OlaHelle) 14. Juni 2016
What will happen now seems very unsure. On Wednesday government said it will start on working on the registration process and checking single asylum seeker on the right to stay. This might take up to months. Even though the camps are evicted and the government tries to make the place look there have been no people searching shelter at all, worldwide attention has to be kept on what happens to the people that were on site.