Migrants have taken over the Idomeni station platform and even the railway lines.
When Ahlen Foundation arrived at the Diavata camp, it was late at night and pouring with rain. Apparently it had already been raining for a day before we arrived. The buildings were pretty run down but the roofs were watertight. The fence was secure so no migrant could enter or leave without the permission of the military. It contained 2,200 migrants. They
did not seem overly happy.
This camp was certainly offering the migrants no way of taking advantage of any border opening, nor of finding work in the local area. For them, stuck in this camp, there was no future. If you treat migrants like this, they either get angry or they sink into an
'acquired helplessness' mode, where they becoming unwilling or unable to do anything for themselves.
The following morning in continuous heavy rain we arrived at Idomeni, a tiny farming hamlet, on the railway line into Macedonia.
It is surrounded by huge flat fields as far as the eye can see, except that now, instead of corn there are tents, tents, and more tents.
Imagine Glastonbury festival in its worst year when it rained all weekend. But add to that - it is winter not summer: there is no music, there are thousands of children and babies, and the stay is long. Everyone, men, women and children are soaked to the skin; so is the bedding in their tents. The tents themselves are filling with water from underneath as well as on top, and the border is closed.
The camp is a dismal sight physically because it is under water and psychologically because it represents, to so many refugees, the end of the line. The border into Macedonia is closed and it does not look as if it will ever open again.
The infamous razor wire fence stretches as far as the
eye can see in both directions. Some of the migrants have used the fence
to string up their tents, and use it in a vain attempt to dry their
clothes. The police guard the railway line.
Despite the appalling conditions everyone, especially the children seem
surprisingly philosophical and even cheerful.
The government has said that it will empty Idomeni and move the migrants
into more airfields and military bases, but it's difficult to see how
they will manage this. The migrants don't want to stay if the border is
not going to open, but equally, they will not want to be moved into
closed camps. It will feel too much like where they have come from.
Ahlen Foundation supports healthcare to refugees in Idomeni and across