The unofficial refugee camp at Idomeni, Greece, was set up after the closing of the Balkan migration route in February 2016. As many as 8,500 to 10,000 people were trapped at the border between Greece and Macedonia, which led to the creation of the largest transit refugee camp in Europe. Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish and Afghani refugees constituted the largest ethnic groups inside the camp. It offered only basic sanitary facilities and living conditions. Some of its residents were accommodated in large tents, while others were squeezed into small camping tents. Particularly hard-hit by the adverse weather – frost and frequent rain – were the numerous children living in the camp. The refugee camp could not have continued without the help of volunteers from around Europe and the help of support organisations, and many of its residents would have suffered hunger.
The refugees expected the borders to be reopened. Exasperated by their dire situation, they organised protests in the hope that their voice would be heard – somewhere.
The camp was closed in May 2016. Most of the refugees were relocated to other camps in Greece.
The causes of the refugees’ exodus from their homelands have not been eliminated and EU migration policies have become more strict.