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Going nowhere: 13,000 refugees still stuck in Europe's biggest waiting room

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Going nowhere: 13,000 refugees still stuck in Europe's biggest waiting room



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As EU leaders and Turkey seek solutions to the migration crisis, far from the comfortable conference rooms of Brussels, blocked at a border marked by cold, filth and despair, at least 13,000 men, women and children wait.

Macedonian authorities are allowing only a handful of refugees through each day to continue their journey to northern Europe.

The rest remain at Idomeni on the Greek side of the frontier – now a giant, ever-growing holding pen for people who thought they had left hell on earth behind.

“I escaped from the war in Syria, not to find another death here in this camp, under the rain and in the cold” said one young man.

“We sleep on the ground. It is a miserable situation. I don’t know…why we are here?”

With food in short supply, the daily routine means standing for hours for a sandwich and an orange. And then back to the tent to wait – and hope.

Weary, one little girl said: “There is nothing in the tent. There are queues everywhere. You have to queue for everything. To eat, to get washed, you have to queue.”

Many children are getting sick.

But the courage and resilience of the young is astounding, with the simplest of pleasures such as basic drawing materials, brightening up their day.

“We watch a lot of children here who play in the garbage. So we do this with a pen and a piece of paper. We play with them and they are so happy with that,” said volunteer Rober Astorgano.

It is a brief light in the darkness for children who have already been through so much.

Children, and their parents, who are still going nowhere.

Lotte Leicht of Human Rights Watch sent her own message to EU leaders.


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