STORY IN PICTURES

Idomeni: on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe

With overloaded boats crossing the sea to Greece daily, the number of people in Idomeni keeps growing.

[Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Idomeni, Greece — The refugee camp at the Greek village of Idomeni near the Greek border with Macedonia slowly turned into a humanitarian catastrophe as more than 12,000 people have been stranded here by border closures.

The Untied Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has accused the European authorities of violating basic principles such as solidarity, dignity and human rights while applying restrictive measures by erecting fencing along their borders and refusing entry on the basis of nationality.

The high commissioner said the current situation in Greece is “dramatic” and the solution presented by European leaders won’t do anything other than put further pressure on a country already in urgent need of assistance.

With overloaded boats daily crossing the Aegean Sea towards the shores of the Greek islands of Lesbos and Kos, the number of people venturing in the direction of Idomeni keeps growing.

Idomeni was originally established as a transit camp designed to hold no more than a few thousand people. The refugees and the aid organisations working at the camp report a shortage of blankets and tents which leaves people exposed to the elements, as well as sub-standard sanitary conditions with only cold water available for washing. There are no warm meals and refugees must wait for hours to receive food.

The camp is also lacking in availability of medical equipment and assistance. The tent set up by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is packed with young children receiving treatment for fever and infections caused by exposure to the cold weather and an environment lacking hygiene. The staff at the clinic say they feel overwhelmed.

While European politicians debate over how to deal with the situation, some refugees have taken matters into their own hands. On Monday, thousands of refugees marched away from the camp, looking for gaps in the razor-wire fence erected by Macedonia, and crossing the Crna Reka river by forming a human chain. Three people were reported to have drowned during the crossing.

A group of migrants walk through fields towards the Greek-Macedonian border crossing at Idomeni, Greece. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

A group of Kurdish-Syrian refugees rest in a field during their journey towards the Greek-Macedonian border. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Around 13,000 people, mostly from the Middle East and African nations, are believed to be stranded in Idomeni, awaiting a chance to proceed with their journey towards Germany and other northern European countries. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Syrian children play outside a tent at the Greek-Macedonian border station of Idomeni, Greece. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Syrian refugees are seen standing outside their tents, after a night of heavy rainfall. Refugees have reported a shortage of tents and blankets, with many left exposed to the harsh elements. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

The sanitary conditions at Idomeni are lacking and many people at the camp have become sick as a result. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Refugees have been staging protests against the border closure. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

A Syrian child sleeps on the floor of the emergency hospital tent run by volunteer organisations at the Greek-Macedonian border in Idomeni. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Aid organisations working at the camp report a shortage in blankets and tents which leaves people exposed to the elements. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Syrian refugees sit around a fire lit to keep tents warm during the cold nights in Idomeni. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Volunteers in Idomeni set up an open-air cinema using a projector to cheer up the children staying at the camp. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Migrants and refugees queue for registration on arrival at the border in Idomeni. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

The situation at the camp has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe as more than 12,000 people have been stranded here by border closures. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Thousands more refugees are expected to arrive at Idomeni as more people continue crossing to Greece from Turkey. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]

Migrant children play on the train tracks at the Greek-Macedonian border station of Idomeni, Greece. [Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Al Jazeera]


Originally published at www.aljazeera.com.