Returning to Idomeni
At first glance, having returned to Idomeni after two weeks, not much seems to have changed. However, having seen many other camps in the meantime, Idomeni does not look like the worst place anymore. The large number of support structures cannot be found in any other place. While the living conditions in Idomeni are worse then in some other camps, they are better than for example in the camp in Katsikas. Further, the value of having places and people that you can ask for help in case something happens cannot be underestimated. Sleeping in a proper building, but being completely isolated and forgotten in the mountains like in Dolina, is not considered ‘better living conditions’ for some refugees.
The repeated insisting from officials and the media that people should leave Idomeni and go to ‘better’ official camps cannot be taken seriously – besides the fact that there are far from enough places in the official camps. According to the UNHCR data, there are only places for 30’860 people in the official camps on the Greek mainland. However, there are 46’450 people stuck on the Greek mainland.
Besides our changed perception of Idomeni, certain aspects did change. While more infrastructure is steadily being built up by NGOs and volunteers, the needs are also changing due to the changing weather conditions. It is getting hot. The temperature is reaching around 28 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. The small tents that are exposed to the sun get unbearably hot. However, there is not a lot of shade in the vicinity of the camp. Only a few trees and houses, as it is on agricultural land.
What has further changed is the behaviour of the Greek police. They are checking the cars that enter the camp more regularly and arrested several volunteers last week.
The police evicted the train tracks today, removing the tents that people had set up on the tracks. While the eviction was said to be peaceful and successful, people re-occupied the train tracks equally peacefully and successfully two hours later.
However, in a fatal incident this afternoon, a police van hit a man, leaving him with severe head injuries in critical conditions. The outraged people in the camp thereafter attacked the police van, smashing its front window. The anger of the people stuck in Greece is accumulating, as they feel abandoned and mistreated by the authorities.
However, there are also some positive changes. Some of the tents where once familiar faces lived found different inhabitants. Some of our friends have left Idomeni. While some contacted us from other camps or from Athens, we also received some messages from Germany. They have made their promises come true: “We will not stay in Greece. Whatever way, we will get to Germany!”
People camping in the shade in the very south east of the camp.