For many of the refugee and migrant children who are stranded in Idomeni, being in Greece seems like a game. Some of them are too young to completely realize what exactly is happening, while others try to focus on the fact that they are safe and far away from war even if the situations are difficult.
Since the Balkan and central European countries decided to close their borders on early March, more than 50.000 refugees and migrants are stuck in Greece, a country in which they don’t really want to live in, but also they don’t want to go back in Turkey, from where they came crossing with boats the Aegean Sea.
According to UNICEF the refugee and migrant children stranded in Greek territory exceed the 22.000, and despite the recent EU-Turkey deal according to which refugees and migrants will be retuned in Turkey, a new Greek law, which came into force on 4 April, is exempting certain vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied and separated children, children with disabilities, victims of distress and trauma, pregnant women and women who recently gave birth.
More and more refugee camps are built all over Greece in support of the refugees, however many of them decide to continue staying in informal camps like in Idomeni , the small village of 150 people in northern Greece near FYROMacedonia, hoping that the border will soon open again and be the first to cross them. The bad weather though, has made things very difficult for them, as mostly the young ones are catching flues and diseases that are very easy to spread under these conditions, according to the doctors. At the same time, the exhaustion and the indignation causes almost every day eruptions between the different ethnicities, and sometimes for insignificant reasons such as the priority in the line for food.
But, because kids will always be kids, even the refugee camps can serve in a way as a different kind of a playground. Many NGO’s and volunteers spent most of their time trying to amuse the children living in the camps, by playing with them, showing them how to draw or even teaching them new skills. However, because of the luck of education, these children face the risk of becoming a “lost generation” and that is something that cannot be ignored.
About the author:
Demetrios Ioannou was born in 1987. He lives and works in Athens, Greece as a freelance photojournalist. Over the years he has worked in various media outlets in Greece and abroad, including the Greek TV station ANT1 TV, the online edition of the Greek newspaper Proto Thema and Daphne Communications, one of Greece’s leading publishing groups. Since 2015 he is a blogger for The Huffington Post Greece and recently he started collaborating with SIPA Press as a contributor.