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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-03-01

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Idomeni's refugees camp: The life in the Waste Land

  • [01] Idomeni's refugees camp: The life in the Waste Land

    (ANA-MPA/ G. Davos) -- At 6 o'clock in the morning, with the first light of the sun, the refugees camp at Idomeni, attached to the frontiers of Greece with FYROM, is already on stir. Everyone, weather grown-ups or kids are on their feet, if they have ever slept the night before, because of the cold, or the coughing and the crying of the babies. Armed with patience, if not with the resignation of who had to wait for more than ten days for the borders to open to him, or his family, begins the usual routine of each day, similar to the one the day before, which was similar to the one before, and so on…..

    One of the first moves, before even to stand in line for the latrines, or to fill the bottle with drinkable water, is to light a fire and try with every possible mean, a broom, or a paper cup, to clean the waters around the tent. The filthy water, stagnated from the previous days' rain and sometimes filled with rubbish of every kind, which the humidity won't let them dry easily, in spite of the sun and the rather warm temperatures, unlikely for this region of Macedonian land.

    The good weather is a fact that all the volunteers of the Medicines Without Frontiers and the other organizations assisting the refugees, underscore in their conversations. Otherwise the whole condition would have been even worse.

    The Monday's incidents in front of the fence with FYROM, caused by the anger and the despair the perspective to remain indefinitely in that limbo zone, is on everybody's lips. "It's normal", explains one volunteer of the Medicines Without Frontiers, who does not want to be identified. "What can you do, if every day cross the border only 200-300 people and 1,999 more arrive?"

    "FYROM is no good, Skopje is a problem", explains Ahmed, a Syrian who left his home with the family of a wife and two small children, in order to make it to Germany. After ten days in the camp, he stresses that he just want to go to Germany and not remain in FYROM, Serbia, or even Greece. "Germany is a good country to work, treats people who work humanely".

    "In my country rules the rule of Daesh, and everyone fights each other, Assad, the opposition, Kurds, all fight", added and he let us enter the big tent, inside which at least thirty people are trying to make space and sleep, warmed only by a blanket and the coexistence of many in a limited place.

    Outside, the first lines are shaped also for the only point to charge the mobile phones, set up by the authorities to avoid any possibility of speculation. The other line, stable all day long, is before the canteen that sells coffee, beverages and sandwiches.

    "The food is not enough for everyone, they only give one sandwich for the whole day. If you don't want to be hungry, you have to buy your own food. But since we don't know how long we are going to stay, we have to be careful not to spend much", told us Mohsen, another Syrian refugee, who thanks God that he didn't take his family along to this strenuous journey from Turkey, to Idomeni, through the Aegean Sea and a short stay in Athens.

    "Everywhere you go, all we do, we have to pay. Two euros for tomatoes, or apples for the children", says another refugee, who eardrops, while he and his wife try to light a fire to boil some tea.

    "You know what we did yesterday? We just bought some bread and bananas and made sandwiches with them", tells us Mohammed, a civil engineer in his previous life in Syria. He is the only one who dares to joke and laugh, when he tells us his story, his adventure from Turkey to Idomeni. "If not laughing, I should take a gun and kill all those who guard the closed border", he explains. "I'm not even thinking of going back to my country. If I do, I will take you with me to see what is happening there", added Mohammed.

    No one else shares his good humour. You can see the despair into their eyes. But the worst of all is that behind this despair and resignation, one can see they have adaptated to the situation of the refugee's status, the total self-abandonment to a life on the road, in camps, to a life that is not life at all, that has lost every hope…

    From every tent comes the voice, the songs, or the coughing of a child. The volunteers explain that the half or more of the population of this camp are children. Children are the only ones who have adapted to the situation, they still play and manage to laugh. They stare with genuine curiosity the cameras and the TV crews from every part of Europe that they trespass the fragile privacy of this forest of tents, they are the only who long for a fond gesture of their parents, or the neighbors, as if they used to when they lived in their country, as if their parents and homeland lived in peace. They still have the power to transform the mud and the bare land to a paradisiac place, to play with non-existing toys, or to endure with ataraxy the long hours of the empty days of this buffer zone, that has managed to buffer every hope their parents had so far.

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