Migrants Know Time is Running Out

At the Macedonian Border

Té / 11 February 2016

On the migrant trail at the border between Greece and Macedonia, everyone is scared, writes The Economist.

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photo Florio 2016

Refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are scared that Europe’s doors are closing. Economic migrants from Morocco and Algeria, trying to pass themselves off as refugees, are frightened that they will be turned back and forced to take deadly risks to evade border guards. The Greeks are worried that if the Macedonians seal the border, the refugees will be trapped in Greece. The Macedonians are frightened that the Serbs, one step further along the migrant route, will do the same to them.

The point of arrival for migrants in Macedonia is a transit camp set up last year among the vineyards outside the dusty town of Gevgelija, better known before the crisis as a place where Greeks come to gamble in local casinos or have cheap dentistry work done. The Macedonians built the camp next to the railway line that comes up from the Greek port of Thessaloniki, which crosses the border fence next to a marker bearing the letters SFRJ—the initials of the long-vanished Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Nearby, a covered passage allows refugees to walk from the Idomeni transit camp, just across the fence on the Greek side, up to the checkpoint that brings them into Macedonia.

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