European Union (EU) states turned on each other last week in a bid to keep out refugees.
Greece recalled its ambassador from Austria, while Belgium defied rulings from the EU Commission and the protests of France’s government.
Austria pushed an agreement with Balkan states to limit refugees from Greece. Austrian and Serbian cops were sent to the Greek-Macedonian border, even firing tear gas into Greece.
Greece’s government is furious at being turned into “a giant refugee camp” for Europe. It would rather Nato warships in the Aegean Sea stopped refugees before they reached Greece.
It now limits the transport of refugees from the Greek islands on to Athens. Instead ferries are now being used as temporary floating refugee camps.
Belgium imposed border controls with France to stop people fleeing the Calais evictions from crossing. It deployed almost 300 extra border cops—defying the rules for visa free travel.
The latest EU summit on the refugee crisis will aim to contain the rows and hold the EU together. But Europe’s rulers would rather abandon their unity than accept desperate refugees.
‘Don’t forget us—help us. We cannot go back home’
Refugees forced the Idomeni Greek-Macedonian border crossing open last summer, but it was closed again to all refugees except Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis as winter approached.
Then the Afghans were turned away. Now the Iraqis and Syrians are being stopped.
Thousands are now stuck there—many forced to sleep out in the rain and snow with not even enough tents to go round.
Akram left Syria after being “caught in the crossfire” of its civil war. “I just want to be safe,” he told Socialist Worker. “The conditions in Idomeni are terrible, we are like animals here.”
Leila fled Mosul in Iraq after Isis took over. She said, “We only managed to find a tent two days ago and it is cold at night. But the largest problem is that we don’t know what will happen.
“We hear rumours but don’t know what is true and what is not. Will the borders open? Will they take us?”
Akram said, “If I could say something to people in Europe it would be, ‘Please help us, we cannot go back home.”
Leila’s message was simply, “Don’t forget us.”
Interviews by Maria Pantazi