The blocked gateway

Thousands of people spent weeks stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border waiting to cross but were finally evacuated and sent back to Athens

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees patiently wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, Greece, December 7, 2015.

Updated Dec 12, 2015

We met Hidar a few minutes after finishing an interview with Amnesty International about human rights violations committed in Idomeni.

Preventing people from crossing the border based on their nationality is wrong according to Giogios Kosmopoulos, the director of the NGO’s branch in Greece, who said, "individual cases MUST be heard."

7-year-old Hidar. His family was hoping to reach Sweden where his uncles live, but may now have to request asylum in Greece

But Hidar’s father told us he didn’t get a chance to explain to the Macedonian police the reasons he and his family can not to go back home. As soon as an officer saw "Iran" written on his paper, he was sent back.

He had no choice but to set up camp and wait.

Hidar’s brother, mother and father, his two aunts and five cousins were trying to reach Sweden.

"We are tired. We’ll just stay here until the border opens," said the 29-year-old.

But he wasn't allowed to do that either. Less than 48 hours after we spoke, this happened:

Hidar and his family were put on a bus and driven to Athens.

The same happened to 2,300 other people - according to Greek police numbers.

According to agencies on the ground, the Greek Government has refused to set up a permanent facility near the border with Macedonia.

This year, at least 600,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece, but most of them don’t stay here.

They continue to Northern and Western Europe where they believe they will have more chance to find work and where asylum means social benefits and protection.

Hidar’s family is now in Athens.

The area near the village of Idomeni has been used as a passageway by people for months.

But since Macedonia followed Slovenia’s decision to close the borders to those considered "economic migrants," thousands got stuck.

Officers with the EU border agency Frontex now monitor Idomeni and anyone who is not from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t even get to get off the bus and is sent immediately back to Athens.

Author: Anelise Borges