Terre des hommes is deeply concerned about the situation of refugees and migrants, especially children and vulnerable people, in Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonian border.
More than 10 000 people have been waiting at the closed Greek-Macedonian border since last Monday. More than 50% of them are reported to be women and children. This situation is the result of the new restrictions imposed by the EU member states that have been implemented along the Balkan route to limit the number of refugees and migrants transiting to a quota of 580 per day. As a result, thousands of refugees are stranded in Idomeni and all along the route.
The camp in Idomeni does not have the capacity to host such a large number of people, leaving thousands of people sleeping outside in detrimental conditions with extremely limited access to food, water, toilets, showers and medical care. This is particularly worrying for the most vulnerable people: children as well as elderly, disabled and sick people.
For people who have not been able to advance for several days, the situation is frustrating and incomprehensible. On Monday 29 February, after some refugees tried to break through the fence, tear gas was used by the Macedonian police. This created panic; MSF reported that they have “treated 22 people following the clashes, including 18 with respiratory problems from the teargas and four hit by rubber bullets and sticks. They said that 10 children, including some under age 5, were among the injured”.
The situation is not likely to become better as more than 2000 refugees are arriving every day on the Greek islands and aim to cross the Macedonian border.
Therefore Terre des hommes Lausanne and Terre des hommes Netherland will continue to work together with their local partners ARSIS, La Strada and NSHC to support refugees and their families with its intervention in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia.
Terre des hommes is calling for the protection of all children. Following the non-discrimination principle no child can be deprived of his or her rights because of their nationality. The new regulations stop refugees’ applying for asylum based on their nationality or for lack of documents. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Terre des hommes is also calling for a common EU policy and a fast, coordinated answer from the EU and Balkan countries to support people seeking asylum with special attention to vulnerable people including children.