Macedonia has seen thousands of people entering across the Greek border by foot, and lately more often woman with children and babies, old people,… These people are on the run because of war, most of them from Syria and Irak.
I have good friends who are volunteering there. They have been helping out of own initiative, long before any institutions where present. At the moment two dear friends, Alexandra and Gabriela, are coordinating the volunteers in Macedonia. Below you can find their experiences.
This is a call for your help.
I will travel to Macedonia this month and will bring them whatever you think usefull. Write me your idea’s, project proposals, questions…
For more information, contact Yahu by this email adress:
Here are 2 testimonies by Alexandra and Gabriela:
Back on the north border. My “trip” to the south is over. What I saw the last few days in Gevgelija, the camp in Idomeni, Hara hotel and especially at the Macedonian-Greek borderline, will remain in my memory for ever.
Seems like all the desperation in the world has planted itself among these people. Desperate to get in the country, begging and crying from behing the razor wire, pushing their children in front of them so we and the special police force can see the conditions they are in(living for days in the fields and the dirt, wet from the rain and dehydrated from the sun) and in an act of mercy and humanity will take them across the razor wire. Others desperate to get reunited with the members of their families who managed to break trough earlier. So many families got separated then, in the clash with the police, while running trough the open fields and on the train tracks, as far as they could from the stun grenades and the war-zone scene that was evolving. Their cry of happiness and gratitude once we find their family members behind the razor wire and take them out, on Macedonian territory. To safety. And for a split of a second, the desperation is over. Until they get to the train station, and see the line for getting the papers. Standing on the sun for hours, one line for men, other line for women and families. Desperate to finish the processing and continue their way. Many fights happen on those lines, not because one is violent, but because one can only endure so much. Than the train boarding drama. It’s always a mystery when the train will come, and how many trains there will be that day. And how much people it can take. And hundreds to a thousand(and more) are waiting to board. Once they see the train appear, they rush and push in desperate attempt to be the ones who manage to board first. The police reacts to create order, and ask us to help try take out families to board first. The most vulnerable categories of people. But how do you pick them out, when most of them are families, with lots of children of different age, pregnant women, old people.. and all of them are equally desperate to get over yet another obstacle of the many they encountered and will encounter on their way. And all of them are begging to be picked out to be the next to board. My words that they will all get there eventually are not heard. Because they want to get there now. And once they do, it’s long and crammed train ride to Tabanovce, often more than 6hours for less than 200km.
I will never forget the sight of 4000-5000 wet people I saw the cold night I visited the camp on the Greek side of the border line.
I will never forget the old man loosing his breath, distressed from the stun grenades and the running, laying in my lap, while a doctor refugee was trying to help him.
I will never forget the child with the blue-green eyes who got separated from all of his family in the rush and stayed on the train tracks persistently until we took his hand and led him to the razor wire to find his mother and father and two brothers, and take them in.
I will never forget the police officer who asked me to help another child that lost his family.
I will never forget the desperate cries of the people in the first row behind the razor-wire, calling out our names, pleading as we pass by to help them get inside the country and finish the nightmare they are in.
The locals are vehemently opposed to the refugees resting in front of their buildings and both the locals and the police keep chasing them away. Zero refugee camps, only concrete and lots of garbage to sleep on, yet apparently it is “illegal” to sleep on the streets… ”Where to, where to? “ – they ask us. If only we had some answers…I simply reply: “You have Bashar al-Assad and we have our own Bashar al-Assad”..
– A refugee kid was found sleeping on top of a local’s car; a baby suckling its mother’s breast while she’s sleeping in the streets of Gevgelija; beautiful refugee kids innocently smiling and waving at the camera…Our monstrous government does not allow us, civilians, to take refugees in in our homes; it is only registered hotels that can accommodate refugees. The same rules apply as regards transport – we had organisations offering to provide humanitarian transport; yet the current refugee legislation stipulates it is only registered taxi companies /trains/bus companies that can provide transport to the refugees. In other words, people who want to do good are literally BANNED from doing it. It is a country of perverted values and doing good is officially regarded as crime.
– Lots of children, lots of dirt and stinging pain creeping in at the sinister railway station. And lots of local vendors illegally selling a bottle of water for 2 euros and overpricing all the other products. Their fair-like stalls (now offering a wide range of ridiculously overpriced fair-like products, including popcorn) are next to the border police station at the train station, and yet, these criminals are tolerated by the police. When we come to the train station and try to offer humanitarian assistance in the form of food, water, clothes, as humanitarian activists – we are incessantly harassed by the police who apparently have a problem with giving free food to people in need. “You need a special permit to give out food, you need to be registered…” Almost every single day is a struggle where we are asked for our IDs.For the police, it is incomprehensible to want to help people in need without having any gain from it. A month ago, my lovely American friend Serendipity almost got arrested and fined for “volunteering” with a tourist visa. She’s a medically trained professional and was giving foot massages to the refugees. For whom was she volunteering, I wonder? For HUMANITY?!