Yesterday, on March 22, SKAI Greek TV station transmitted “Out of control situation in Idomeni. Refugees take control of camp.”
Earlier yesterday, two men poured gasoline on their clothes and set themself on fire as others try to put the fire out during a protest by refugees and migrants demanding that the Greek-Macedonian border be opened, the Athens news Agency reported.
The rage and frustration of more than 13,000 stranded immigrants and refugees in Idomeni is now clearly expressed, while some of them take it out on members of NGOs who until yesterday were the only people who were supporting and helping them.
Many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) flee from the camp. Doctors Without Borders have already left the camp. The aid organizations presumed that they would not be able to continue their work in the out of control situation in Idomeni.
“The situation is difficult. There is tension, the people are exhausted. They come to the infirmaries and shout, they want to be first in line, they cannot wait” Antonis Rigas of the Doctors Without Borders told To Vima.
Mr. Rigas further explained that the Doctors Without Border pulled out on Tuesday afternoon because its members did not feel safe. “They told us not to distribute food. They did not allow our truck to go through. There are groups of people shouting ‘we don’t want food, we want the borders to open’. We are waiting for things to calm down to see what we will do. We have all reached our limits” he added.
Refugees stopped the van of an NGO Praxis, which was about to deliver food to the camp, deciding not to accept food inside the camp in order to protest.
The president of the Doctors of the World in Greece Nikitas Kanakis stated: “We must look out for the safety of our volunteers” he lamented and estimated that a “new Idomeni out of concrete” is emerging in Piraeus, as thousands of refugees arrive there from the islands and set up camp.
The UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch, who left Idomeni on Tuesday said that he was concerned about the situation growing worse, since the people are losing their patience and there is major tension.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also said it would be taking a less active role in providing assistance on the Greek islands in the wake of the European Union’s agreement with Turkey. It will lead to the agency scaling down its operations in places such as Lesvos. NGOs withdrawal came after the UNHCR statements. “Under the new provisions, these so-called hot spots have now become detention centers,” said UNHCR spokewoman Melissa Fleming. “Accordingly, and in line with UNHCR policy of opposing mandatory detention, we have suspended some of our activities at all closed centers on the island.”