Idomeni refugees caught between a rock & a hard place

Stranded refugees at the Idomeni camp on the Greek-Macedonian border have no answers on their future.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugee boys lay on a railway track during a protest at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece

Updated May 12, 2016

Idomeni, a small village in Greece - close to the border with Macedonia - is becoming the centre of attention in Europe’s biggest refugee crisis.

Since, 2014 refugees fleeing war, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan, chose this route on their way to Macedonia.

However, when Macedonia introduced its border controls and decided to close the border as a solution to controlling the influx entering the country, the refugees were left stranded on the Greek side.

The Idomeni makeshift camp has become the “temporary” home of refugees, however they fear it may be permanent. 

Children keep warm around a bonfire at the makeshift camp in Idomeni village, Greece. (AFP)

But, while waiting for the European Union to decide on their future, violence between them, rumours of open borders, people trying to cross the closed borders or clashes with police is becoming an everyday occurrence at the camp.

The refugees want to believe that they will move forward in Europe and are willing to take all means possible to achieve their dream.

In March, a leaflet was found with instructions to refugees on how they can cross the border from less guarded spots, promising them buses that will take them to Germany. 

The leaflet distributed at the refugees showing a route to Macedonia.

The leaflet, written in Arabic, urged refugees to attempt crossing from specific spots, promising an easier relocation in Europe.

On March 14, refugees attempted to cross in to Macedonia, after being deceived by the leaflet and fears that the camp would soon close, meaning they would be forced to relocate. 

So, what’s really going on at the camp? What kind of security are the refugees under, especially when they are being misled by random brochures?

With hopes of a better life, refugees are believing rumours and risking their lives in attempt to cross the rumoured opening at the Macedonian border.

According to Greek media, although some haven’t seen the leaflet, which included a map pinpointing the exact direction they have to follow- they have decided to go.

Some women have stayed behind, as they have to cross a river, which would be dangerous for their children.

The rumours came at a time when Greece’s weather was not in their favour, as it rained for days.

Although this is just an example of where hope for a better and certain future can lead the refugees, the bigger question remains, if this continues, who can save them from being deceived by people who reportedly have access to the camps and are constantly trying to pursue them to run away.

How can they ensure safety when their questions for relocation remains unanswered?

Author: Ioanna Sakoufaki

TRTWorld and agencies