Over 1,000,000 million refugees entered Europe in 2015, more than 800,000 chose the Western Balkan route which took them to an obscure railway crossing near the tiny village of Eidomeni on Greece's northern border with FYR Macedonia.
After a journey from the port of Pireaus that can last up to 20 hours refugees are rushed by the Greek police to the border. Volunteer groups and NGOs at the camp are often given as little as 10 minutes to hand out food, clothing, medical aid and information before crossing over.
There is the constant fear that the government of FYR Macedonia will permanently close down the border with Greece and so leave people stranded. When the border is open or closed seems to be completely at the whim of the FYR Macedonia government and there is little or no co-operation between the authorities on both sides of the frontier and so little idea when and for how long the crossing remain shut.
For their part the Greek police who control acccess to Eidomeni also refuse to share information with NGOs and volunteer groups over when and how many refugees will be arriving at the camp on any given day, despite the fact that they control the flow from start to finish on the Greek mainland. Indeed since December the attitude of the police has perceptibly hardened, ranging from sullen indifference to active hostility, sometimes kicking out organisations such Médecins Sans Frontières all together, with little or no notice.
To make an already difficult situation worst, the police forbid access to the hot food, doctors, heated tents and other faciities that have been built recently at Eidomeni. Instead refugees are forced to wait endless hours at a road side petrol station/cafe 20km from the site whilst temperatures at night often drop to -15c. Here refugees are obliged to buy food and water whilst just a ten minute ride away volunteers wait to hand out such items at no cost.
Last week over 3,000 people, including many families with very young children were forced to endure extreme cold overnight while the camp remained half empty.
We are calling upon media outlets to highlight this scandalous abuse of refugees by the Greek authorities. The more international pressure is brought upon the SYRIZA government and prime minister, Alexis Tsipras the more likely refugees will receive more humane treatment on the Greek leg of their trek to safety.
Refugee Solidarity Movement Thessaloniki-Eidomeni