Sunday, February 07, 2016

Video:Tensions rise in the Eidomeni transit camp - northern Greece (footage taken on 3 February)

The major ferry strike which cut off the Greek islands from the mainland meant that when it ended  on the 31st January there was a sudden surge in the number of refugees heading from Athens to the Eidomeni transit camp on Greece's northern border with FYR Macedonia. The situation was further exacerbated by with the unwillingness of the FYR Macedonian government to open the border crossing at Eidomeni to more than a fraction of refugees. The result was an an explosive situation in the camp as thousands of tired, hungry people waited in limbo unsure of what they had to to face next.

On Wednesday 3 February riot police were deployed in an attempt to keep control of a steadily deteriorating situation as thousands sought to get their papers stamped by the Greek police, without which they would not be allowed to cross into FYR Macedonia.

With camps full to overflowing, many refugee families were forced to sleep out in the open in freezing temperatures for three nights and with little information about if or when they would be allowed to continue their journey.

Behind the decision on whether to open or close the border lie a multitude of political calculations in which smaller Balkan nations juggle the intense political pressure they are under from northern EU nations to stop the flow of refugees with the fear that they will become a dumping ground for people nations such as France, Germany and Denmark do not want to accept.

As the EU continues to prevaricate and avoids taking concrete decisions concerning the refugee crisis in Greece and the rest of the Balkans, it is the youngest and most vulnerable who continue to pay for their ineptitude and vacillation.

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