The Current

Refugees in Greek camps trapped in despair as European borders stay closed

Thousands of refugees have ended up in makeshift camps in Greece where sickness spreads easily and food is hard to come by. Today we look at the serious consequences of a refugee bottleneck at the Greece-Macedonia border.
Migrants argue with police near the Greek-Macedonian border, March 2, 2016. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)
This is the biggest refugee crisis Europe has faced since World War Two. And as the numbers continue to climb, the response from many European countries has been to close the doors.

Refugees try to storm Greece-Macedonia border

6 years ago
Duration 1:41
Macedonian police fire tear gas on migrants storming Greek border

Macedonian police fired tear gas at a crowd of refugees trying to force their way through the sealed border fence as refugees chanted "Open the borders" at Greece-Macedonia border.

Refugees run away after Macedonian police officers fired tear gas to disperse refugees trying to break through a border fence into Macedonia near the Greek village of Idomeni, Feb. 29 , 2016, (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

The situation is so desperate that dying back home in Syria is starting to look like mercy for some refugees trapped in a make-shift camp struggling to survive.

A refugee holding his baby warms by a fire at an overcrowded camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni, Feb. 28 , 2016. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)
Please Europe, please Europe, just help us. Help our children. Everyone of Europe know, the situation here, so horrible. There is no food enough for anyone, the cold is so much cold here, everyone sick.- Mohammed, from Homs, Syria in refugee camp on Greece-Macedonia border
refugees sit near their tent on at the Idomeni camp on Greece's northern border with Macedonia, waiting that the Macedonian authorities let them in. (Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images)
We are tired, we are hungry here, we feel cold, our children die behind our eyes. I would like to be in my country, die with the guns. Okay, if I die with the guns in the war, maybe I die for one time, in one moment. But here, we are dying every moment. All the day, all the day, we are dying every moment. It's really, it's suffering.- Samir from Damascus, Syria in refugee camp on Greece-Macedonia border
Refugees stand in line to receive food distributed by a NGO at a refugee camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the northern Greek village of Idomeni. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)
Three days ago a woman tried to set fire on herself. Our psychologists are treating people with severe depression, so it's just coming ... Do we have to see people dying, to actually do something? Let's not reach that point.- Vicky Markolefa with Doctors Without Borders

Guests in this segment:

  • Filip Warwick, freelance journalist covering the refugee crisis. We reached him in a refugee camp at the Greece-Macedonia border. 
  • Judith Sunderland, acting director for the European branch of Human Rights Watch.

The Current reached out to the Macedonian embassy to Canada for a response. No one was available, but we received a statement that reads, in part:

"[Macedonia] aligns to the February 2016 European Council conclusions to rapidly stem the flow, protect borders, reduce illegal migration and safeguard the integrity of Schengen area. To be able to provide effective humanitarian treatment to migrants, Macedonia was obliged to synchronize the number of allowed entries from Greece with the number of allowed entries into Serbia."

This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli.