Meanwhile, At Idomeni

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Police arriving at the makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni this morning

You may recall a post from March, written by Emma Spence, from Glasgow, Scotland, in which she described the conditions of the makeshift refugee camp at Idomeni, at the border of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

She wrote it just before the EU/Turkey deal was struck in late March, around the time the border became shut indefinitely to those hoping to cross and continue into Europe.

There are reportedly around 8,000 people currently seeking refuge based at the camp.

But, this morning, the Greek authorities have started to evacuate the camp and move those living there to other army-run camps in Greece.

Damian Mac Con Uladh, an Irish journalist who lives in Greece, spoke to Audrey Carville on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning about the evacuation.

Audrey Carville: “Damian, you like many other journalists, they’re not allowed in or near the camp this morning while this process is going on, why not?”

Damian Mac Con Uladh: “Well the Greek government clearly don’t want too much attention to be drawn to the actual operation. They’ve only allowed journalists from the state TV and from Greece’s news agency although there are some foreign journalists in there. There is a small number in there, some of them are undercover and they intend to report on this operation which has begun this morning and is expected to take a few days.”

Carville: ‘Yeah because there are thousands of people there, aren’t there? Can you take us through generally what’s been happening at the camp today?”

Mac Con Uladh: “Well, news kind of came through in the last two or three days that the site would be evicted. There’s about 8,500 refugees on the border at Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia, and the government says they will be taken to what they say are better-run camps in northern Greece. This has been their position for a long time but most of the refugees are quite reluctant to go to these camps – fearing that once they’re out of public view, they’ll be forgotten about and their chances of moving on to Europe, of rejoining their families in other parts of Europe become more and more difficult. This morning we hear there’s about 1,500 police in the area of Idomeni, including riot police. About 600, up to now, six buses have left the camp with about 350 refugees, taking them to the camp near the city of Thessaloniki.”

Carville: “And what were conditions like at Idomeni, Damian? Were they similar to ‘The Jungle’ at Calais?”

Mac Con Uladh: “Well certainly in the last few days, yes. The weather’s been quite bad in Idomeni so the camp has kind of reverted to these very muddy conditions that characterised it earlier in the Spring. There are NGOs there trying to do, they’re trying to make the best of a very bad lot for the people there but the Government’s argument – that the camps that they will be taken to are better – is disputed by many NGOs. They’ve visited these camps – many of which are run by the army and conditions there are also quite bleak. Some of them are quite remote, the food being provided there is sub-standard in many cases and this is something that the refugees know about and they fear that once they go there, and they’re out of the public view, their plight will become even more difficult.”

Meanwhile, this weekend…

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A screening of Caoimhe Butterly’s documentary The Sea Between Us, filmed in Lesbos, Greece, will take place at The Sugar Club on Lower Leeson Street in Dublin at 1.30pm on Saturday.

It will be followed by a 12-minute sequence entitled “The Border” that reflects the impacts of border closures and the narratives of some of those who have been stuck at Idomeni; a Q&A with Ms Butterly; and a panel discussion with Ronit Lentin, Hassina Kiboua and Ellie Kisyombe, chaired by Betty Purcell.

Pizza and drinks will be provided at the event while tickets (€13) can be purchased here or at the door. All proceeds will go towards grass-roots refugee support projects in Greece.

Also on Saturday, people who have volunteered with refugees across Europe and elsewhere will meet at 12 noon in Houricans pub, beside The Sugar Club – before the film screening – to share their experiences and ideas about how Ireland can respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Listen back in full to Damian Mac Con Uladh’s interview here

The Sea Between Us – Fundraiser (Facebook)

Related: Idomeni: Greek riot police move in to clear refugee camp (The Guardian)

Pic: Jeanne Carstensen

29 thoughts on “Meanwhile, At Idomeni

  1. dan

    8,000 refugees moved to better accommodation. Journalist kept clear to allow the authorities to compete their work.
    How is this a news worthy story?

    1. ahjayzis

      Was that not a headline from the Warsaw ghetto clearance?

      These people are totally at the mercy of the state, basically prisoners – at the very least everything needs to be done in the light of day.

        1. ahjayzis

          Seriously though, that’s the propaganda that was put out.

          My point being that when we ‘resettle’ vulnerable people, it’s not all well and good that it’s done under the cloak of secrecy and with no oversight or accountability and just take the government line. And you’d agree with me if it was you at the mercy of an alien government after fleeing a war in your homeland / had a capacity for empathy.

      1. dan

        The reference to the Nazis is poor by your standards Ahjaysis.
        The border is closed (not by Greece). The refugees are in Greece, living in squalor. the Eu has abandoned Greece, what exactly would you suggest? Move them to better accommodation or leave them where they are?

        1. ahjayzis

          There’s no suggestion in the piece the camps are any better than Idomeni, and my point is that to limit press access is a mistake – if they’re acting humanely, if that’s even possible when you’re consigning thousands to ‘camps’ – be transparent about it.

          I’m not invoking Godwin, I’m bringing up the last time a minority was forcibly moved in bulk to camps and that we can never, ever just take official word on things like this – we need to see it.

  2. Terry

    Destroy it and send all these invaders back. If they are refugees then they should be screened and their claim processed. We have rules in civilised societies.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      “We have rules in civilised societies.”

      You mean the ones bombing Syria into oblivion under the pretense of destroying ISIS?

  3. fluffybiscuits

    If the 8000 had been resettled elsewhere in Greece with proper accommodation then this would not happen. Numerous websites dehumanise these people, they lose their humanity when the media gets hold of stories like this. Greece has a lot of vacant buildings with running water that could be used…

    1. ahjayzis

      I can see Tsipras’ point. To do so would be doing Europe a massive favour and letting them off the hook. This is a European crisis, not a Greek problem.

  4. jimmy russell

    Anyone trying to say that the vast majority of migrants flooding into europe arent from syria or other warzones or that they are bypassing dozens of countries in europe to get to the ones with the best benefits or that the vast majority are young men and not women and children are just bigoted racists.
    We need to ignore those who say that there as massive problems with existing homeless and underprivileged people in our countries already and we shouldn’t add hundreds of thousands of more people onto already strained systems on top of that, or that the labour market is already shrinking and will begin to shrink dramatically over the next two decades dues to automation and that unemployment rates of 2nd and 3rd generation migrants in multicultural countries like sweden and france are near total.
    europe is for eveyone there needs to be loads more diversity in europe and onlt bigoted racists would disagree #refugeeswelcome #openallborders

    1. ahjayzis

      I don’t think you’re a bigot. I think you’re a coward pretending his irrational terror of the dangers of scared, vulnerable people is actually pragmatic strength.

    2. MoyestWithExcitement

      I *do* think you’re a bigot. How many homeless people have you taken in while we’re on it?

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          1 but I’m not pretending to care about homeless people because I really hate scary brown people.

          1. ahjayzis

            I profess to care about health provision in this country – but my secret shame is that I’ve never actually built a hospital or trained a doctor myself :’o(

    3. human

      Jimmy the regressive’s on here are brainwashed cultural marxists ….. logic and facts are pointless with them.

      1. ahjayzis

        And you’re a fearful little man who thinks it’s brave and strong to condemn the abjectly helpless.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        The UN says it’s 70% women and children. So there is obviously is disputing that perception.

      2. ahjayzis

        As a male am I not allowed run for my life if someone’s barrel bombing my town? Is it a genital quota thing? It’s okay for men because Isis will just throw them off a building/behead them, right? Sure they’re the jammy ones.

    4. ahjayzis

      2nd and 3rd generation migrants aren’t migrants unless they’ve moved country, which would make them 1st generation migrants.

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