Refugees stranded in Greece await news from EU summit with Turkey

IDOMENI, Greece -- Thousands of refugees stranded on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia were anxiously awaiting news Monday from a European Union summit with Turkey that will seal their fate, as the chokehold on their route into Western Europe tightened.

See Full Article

Reports swirled in the overflowing camp near the northern Greek village of Idomeni that European leaders will close the border. Although the flow into Macedonia has slowed to a trickle, some are still getting through. Greek authorities said 337 people crossed between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday.

One Syrian Kurdish family said they were determined to cross and be reunited with the rest of the family in Germany, no matter what the leaders decide.

"If they close the borders, we will still cross, by any means. Whatever it takes. We will go," said Lasgeen Hassan, 59, from Al Qamishli in Syria. "We have nothing to go back to. Our homes are destroyed."

Hassan's son and two grandsons managed to flee to Germany last year and settled in Berlin, but the rest of his son's family -- his wife and six other children -- stayed behind. Now, they are all stranded in Idomeni.

"They say that we should be reunited. How do I get reunited with my husband? What do I do? What do I go back to? There is nothing to go back to," said his daughter-in-law, 39-year-old Mesgheen Farahan Hassan.

Throughout the camp, the anxiety over what will be decided more than 2,200 kilometres (1,400 miles) away in Brussels was almost palpable, with refugees stopping journalists to ask whether they had heard of any news from the summit.

"If they don't take all the people here and settle us down, the whole world will be in chaos, children will be in chaos," said Hassan Sheikho from Syria. "For four years we haven't been able to raise our children well. Every two-three days in different place, every two-three months, a new place, and then? Solve the crisis in Syria and we'll go back, otherwise, make your decision and we'll be ready."

The bottleneck at Idomeni has left some 13,000-14,000 people stranded in and around the camp, and more than 36,000 people across financially battered Greece, with thousands more arriving each day.

In Idomeni, new large tents have been hastily erected in the last few days, but most people camp along the railway tracks, on the train station platform, in disused railway carriages and in the surrounding fields, their passage blocked by a fence erected by the Macedonians and reinforced by coils of razor wire.

Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said 4,000-5,000 of those in Idomeni are children. The group said it conducted about 2,000 medical consultations last week, with 63 per cent of the cases involving vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections, all attributable to the lack of adequate shelter and hygiene.

Accidents also occur. On Monday, a 12-year-old boy was seriously injured after climbing on top of a railway carriage and being hit by electricity from a high-voltage cable overhead. The boy was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance, while two other children were more lightly hurt, local police said.

A strong wind whipped up the dust from the fields as ominous black rainclouds hung above the sprawling encampment, with volunteers handing out rain ponchos. A riot police bus arrived with police handing out bags of clothes to the refugees.

The idea of the borders closing has worried aid organizations, who stress a European plan is needed to deal with the crisis.

"The best way out of here is a European mechanism, to take these people to reception centres, register them and then distribute them according to the agreed European quota," said Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency.

"What Europe needs to wake up to is that there is a humanitarian crisis, here, in Greece, and Greece cannot cope. They need help and these people are desperate people who have been spending night after night over here, hoping they will be able to get across or at least hoping there will be help. They need an answer, a quick answer."

Amer Cohadzic and Khaled Kazziha in Idomeni and Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, Greece, contributed.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Quebec City mosque leadership takes stand at shooter's sentencing hearing

    Canada News CTV News
    QUEBEC -- The head of a Quebec City mosque where six worshippers were gunned down addressed the author of the rampage directly in court Thursday and pointedly asked him why he committed the crimes. "Why? Why?," said Boufeldja Benabdallah, his eyes trained on killer Alexandre Bissonnette as he testified at his sentencing arguments. Source
  • Dash cam video captured by Manitoba courier sparks concerns about crosswalk safety

    Canada News CTV News
    When a woman was having trouble crossing a busy intersection in Selkirk, Manitoba, Rick Ritchie’s dash cam was there to capture every second. The video shows the pedestrian waiting on the side of the road as cars continue to speed through the marked crosswalk. Source
  • Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - A Montreal couple are hoping to be allowed to keep their beloved family pet -- a 27-kilogram pig named Babe. Mario Ramos and his wife received a notice from a city inspector giving them 15 days to find another place to put their animal or else face penalties. Source
  • P.E.I. vet operates on 50-gram hamster in smallest ever surgery

    Canada News CTV News
    NEW PERTH, P.E.I. - A veterinarian in Prince Edward Island successfully operated on her smallest patient ever earlier this week -- a 50-gram dwarf hamster named Mr. Nibbles. Mr. Nibbles injured his paw on his hamster wheel, and needed an amputation. Source
  • North Korea wants guarantee of security in return for 'complete denuclearization'

    World News CBC News
    Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday. Source
  • Wine industry, business groups disappointed by Supreme Court's interprovincial beer ruling

    Canada News CBC News
    Business groups and free-market advocates are expressing disappointment with Thursday's ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that dealt a blow to those who want to see interprovincial trade barriers knocked down. The top court's decision upheld a provincial restriction on how much alcohol people are allowed to bring across provincial borders. Source
  • Man accused of killing yoga teacher takes stand in own defence

    Canada News CTV News
    WARNING: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing. HALIFAX - Nicholas Butcher has taken the stand in his own defence at his second-degree murder trial in the death of Halifax yoga instructor Kristin Johnston. Source
  • Supreme Court of Canada set to decide on international custody case

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Canada's top court is set to decide on Friday whether children who have lived in Canada for years should be forced to go back to Germany where their father lives. The case turns on such matters as how much say children should have when their parents' relationship sours, and what constitutes their "habitual residence. Source
  • Puerto Rico officials say 80% of customers have power after latest blackout

    World News CBC News
    Puerto Rico's power company said Thursday that it has restored electricity to more than 80 per cent of customers affected by an island-wide blackout that was caused by an excavator hitting a transmission line, but tens of thousands of families still remain without normal service seven months after hurricanes Maria and Irma. Source
  • Meet the 20-year-old who wants to interview as many WWII combat veterans as possible

    Canada News CTV News
    For the past year and a half, Rishi Sharma has been travelling across the U.S. The reason for the 20-year-old’s travels is not wanderlust, nor is it a thirst for adventure. The driving force behind Sharma’s journey is a desire to interview every Second World War combat veteran that he can before time runs out. Source