The end of the journey

Thousands of people were sent back to Greek capital and might need to abandon their dream of a better life in northern Europe

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A refugee seen walking away from the Greek-Macedonian border, after failing to cross over, near to the village of Idomeni, Greece December 5, 2015.

Updated Dec 12, 2015

Can you imagine putting your sick baby to sleep on the floor?

Some families we met inside the 2004 Olympic Handball stadium in Athens will have to do that again tonight.

There’s also no hot water for showers and only one food distribution spot.

Thousands of migrants and refugees who were stranded in Idomeni have been transferred to former Olympic stadiums in the Greek capital.

Most of the people here have been traveling for weeks, if not months.

The last leg of the journey - the crossing between Turkey to Greece - has been the most traumatic: almost everybody knows someone who lost a husband or a child dead in the water.

Now that they have finally reached Europe, they were hoping to be treated better than this.

Families camp inside Athens stadium.

But the Greek Government says it is doing it’s best - letting everyone in. The problem is deciding who should be allowed to stay.

This year, at least 600,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece, but most of them continue on to Northern and Western Europe where they believe they will have more chances to find work. And where asylum means social benefits and protection.

When thousands got stranded in Idomeni, the government offered them the possibility to ask for asylum in Greece.

But it hasn’t promised those requests would be approved.

Now that local mayors have sent a letter to the Minister of Migration asking for the so called "economic migrants" to be removed from the stadiums, the clock is ticking.

People line up for food at the only distribution spot.

People are afraid they might be deported, so many have been trying to find an alternative way to continue traveling - even if that means paying a smuggler to go through Bulgaria or Albania… or sneaking into a truck to Italy.

But for those with no money left, or too tired to continue the perilous trip, Athens could be the end of the journey.

Author: Anelise Borges