For certain, you will have heard and read that the Caravan of Hope was unable to leave Greece. At this moment, there is a lot of information circulating on social media, making it difficult to understand what is true. Therefore, we would like to clarify some information that has been confirmed. More than 1000 people gathered near the refugee camp of Diavata in Thessaloniki in order to march towards the northern border. Yesterday and also again today they were prevented from starting the march by Greek police who have surrounded the area. There have been clashes with the police, who used tear gas to control the situation. The police and the people there are now in a deadlock. The Ministry of Migration Policy have responded to the situation by offering to assist people who now wish to leave the area and are providing transport to get them back to their accommodation. They have also announced that any person accepting their assistance will not lose their accommodation and their current rights. The Ministry of Migration Policy has also stressed in a statement released yesterday that under no circumstances will the borders open. To add to this, officials of the European Union have stated multiple times in recent months their desire to stop illegal border crossings by offering more money and staff to protect the European borders. This is evidence to the fact that the political situation in Europe is very different than in 2015/2016, when for some time people could move freely from Greece into Central and Northern Europe. The current situation for many refugees in Greece is difficult and frustrating. We understand that people were hoping that the Caravan of Hope was a way to get out of these difficult situations. Please note that we are not connected to the government or to the organizers of the Caravan of Hope. We don't want to tell you what you should do, we just want to inform you as good as we can. Most importantly though at this difficult time is that you and your family are safe.
Photo by Toon Lambrechts