My Refugee Journey – 30th April to 2nd May 2016 | Macedonia
Saturday 30th April
Three Syrian refugees who I’ve known since Lesvos are trapped in Macedonia in a refugee transit camp currently, but the support from some friends in Portugal and Canada, we are gathering together information to help get them asylum in Portugal. This information we are gathering will really help so today I will be spending all day with the refugees to gather everything we need to help them… Ive made contact with a great guy who is a member of one of the NGOs on the camp who has sorted it for me to get on camp in the afternoon, but before that I meet with the refugees off camp to spend as much time as possible to get what I need to help them.
I meet Safwat, Rama and Jihad at the rail tracks close to the camp, we sit on the now disused track to chat and catch up since we haven’t seen each other since February on the island of Lesvos…
We move off to the camp after a couple of hours chatting to work on the information needed and the plan for asylum in Portugal. Safwat first gives me a tour of the camp, which doesn’t take long as it’s very small! We then head off to Safwat and his siblings hut on the camp… A very positive and productive day is had, even though my first 48hrs in Macedonia have been quite negative… I’ve seen local police beat up three young refugees who were just sitting in the sun doing nothing, I’ve had the total run around by the Macedonian officials and the total lack of care for the refugees in this country.
Sunday 1st May
Today is about admin, writing up all the information I have on the three refugees we are trying to help gain asylum in Portugal and meeting up with my new contact from one of the NGOs who is helping me with getting things done here in Macedonia and there are very few people like him who actually give a shit about the welfare of the refugees trapped in Macedonia.
I’ve found that the police here are totally hypocritical, on one hand they don’t care about the refugees welfare whilst in Macedonia and on the other they are also helping the refugees cross the border into Serbia, I have to wonder if this is being done by the individual police officers on the camp or if they have been given orders to do this at a higher level…
I find out a female police officer in the last few days got 50 refugees across into Serbia in just one night! Currently if refugees are caught by the Serbian Police close to the Macedonia border they send them back to Macedonia, if the refugees make it a reasonable distance into Serbia then the refugees are left to stay in country.
There are basically two ways the refugees travel once in Serbia, either on foot all the way to Belgrade or by taxi, the only other way is that the refugees present themselves to the Police station to register officially.
Monday 2nd May
Today Ive been trying to evaluate how successful my trip to Macedonia has been if at all! The plan was to live as a refugee sleep in tent etc but talking to police, locals and refugees this seemed very dangerous with Albanian Mafia, criminal gangs operating on the border and some of the police that operate in a very heavy handed way.
I planned to go back to Serbia tomorrow with some success though of which for now I can’t say but with connections in Portugal and Canada some refugees may well find themselves citizens and no longer refugees
Only time will tell now how things work out…
I’m now heading to Idomeni within the next 48hrs as heading to Belgrade or staying in Macedonia whilst waiting for some form of conformation of how far we’ve got with sorting asylum in Portugal for Safwat and his siblings. In Idomeni I can camp with the refugees which will cost nothing until its worth heading back to Macedonia and then Belgrade in Serbia.