Idomeni, Thessaloniki (GR), Mar 2016. During the last few years, conservative and nationalistic policies have been increasingly implemented by European countries and the Community as a whole. Especially in matter of foreign politics those have greatly affected migratory routes and the lives of thousands of asylums seekers. In this regard, the sealing of the EU borders in November 2015 was received by many with great disappointment, with NGOs calling it an implicit violation of human rights. Now, the signing of the EU-Turkey agreement once more rises questions about Brussels’ priorities when confronted with the ongoing humanitarian emergency.

This is today particularly evident in Idomeni, a small Greek village located next to the Macedonian border where the so-called Balkans route runs along the Thessaloniki-Skopje train line. However, since November 2015 this place of transit has become a dead end for thousand of people, who have found themselves helplessly stuck waiting for the borders to open again.

In the meantime, a make-shift refugee camp has quickly developed supported by NGOs, volunteers and simple citizens. People of all ages live here, often needing urgent healthcare and lacking all kind of essentials. Whether entire families or single individuals as young as teenagers, they are all fleeing from instability, war and persecution, their only aspiration that to resume a decent life and be safe again.

In order to break this stalemate, the recently struck deal empowers the EU to return undocumented migrants to Turkey, based on the largely questioned designation of Turkey as safe country. As part of this agreement, for each person returned a Syrian refugee will be allowed in Europe, in addition to a series of financial and political benefits offered to Ankara.

In all this Idomeni has come to represent a symbol of this European migrants crisis, a modern odyssey in which the EU has become the big absentee. In this climate, frustration and disappointment have become the ruling sentiments for those living inside and outside Fortress Europe, casting a shadow on the European dream.


© Mattia Alunni Cardinali
© Mattia Alunni Cardinali