Only 580 people will be allowed to enter each country per day. This new quota was set by Austria, and has already been implemented in Slovenia and Croatia. We also read a report from Presevo in Serbia that the supporting structures there will be scaled down according to the lower number of people expected. This quota will probably be applied in all of the countries along the ‚Balkan route‘. That means that a huge amount of people will be stuck in Greece, since current number of daily arrivals on the Greek islands is about 2500 (average from 19th – 25th February 2016 – from: http://data.unhcr.org/mediterranean/download.php?id=756 ).
Currently around 25.000 people are stuck somewhere in Greece and the government is building huge camps across the country. Two days ago, refugees who were imprisoned in Diavata, a detention center close to Thessaloniki, broke the fences to start walking towards Idomeni. All over northern Greece groups of refugees are on their way, many walking along the highway towards the border. On Saturday, 7.000 people were waiting in the camp in Idomeni and only 150-450 were allowed to enter Macedonia. According to the new regulation, only persons with a Syrian or Iraqi passport with a biometrical photo are allowed to pass, leaving thousands of refugees from Afghanistan stuck in Greece. Consequently, Idomeni camp is being searched for refugees from Afghanistan to send them to detention camps. Still a lot of people arrive to Polykastro gas station by bus and they are not willing to wait there but start to walk the 20 km towards Idomeni by foot. NGOs in Idomeni ran out of blankets and tents so thousands are sleeping in the rain and cold. Self-organized activists cooking food are calling for helping hands and money to keep the kitchen running.
Talking to the Skopje crew we learned that they hardly met any people in the last days. Supposedly the reason is the stricter Macedonian border policy. They think about restructuring their support, for example by exploring different routes. Contact has been established to a local lawyer and to MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) for medical supplies. A second, bigger flat has been rented which became necessary since there will never be less than 13 activists until the end of March. There is a strong cooperation with the activists in Idomeni, possibly their focus will shift in that direction.
Right now we are on the way to Belgrade to meet with activists and refugees in order to learn about their situation in Serbia. After finding out the routes that refugees use to cross the country we want to see what kind of support they could need.