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The dead end at Idomeni: thousands struggle in worsening conditions

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The dead end at Idomeni: thousands struggle in worsening conditions


It was once a site of hope, another border crossed off on the often perilous journey to western Europe. But after Macedonian authorities closed the borders with Greece, Idomeni became a dead end.

The small northern Greek village has turned into a makeshift refugee camp, where thousands of mainly Syrian and Iraqi nationals struggle daily to gain access to limited food, sanitation facilities and medical care. There are 180 toilets and showers.

People camp wherever they can find space in the muddy settlement. Recent heavy rain has swamped tents, forcing many to sleep on the ground, their blankets soaked through.

There is little sign of better times to come.

The minimal services available are provided solely by NGOs and volunteers, Amnesty International reports.

The aid agency notes that “state support is strikingly absent.”

Upon a visit to Idomeni, US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland said better accommodation was needed for those stuck there.

She said Washington was closely watching the progress of a draft deal between the European Union and Turkey, particularly with regard to the resettlement process.

Ninety so-called irregular migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey on Friday (March 11). Thousands more would be sent back from EU member states if the deal is finalised.

Greece has agreed to accept one Syrian for every person returned to Turkey.

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