Refugees at Idomeni say will stay put despite EU accord

Refugees at Idomeni say will stay put despite EU accord

Migrants and refugees stranded at a border camp in northern Greece vowed to stay put on Friday, shrugging off an EU decision intended to halt illegal migration flows to Europe.

European Union leaders approved a controversial deal with Turkey on Friday intended to stem one of the biggest migratory flows in generations of people fleeing conflict.

But the mood among thousands of people gathered at the muddy border outpost of Idomeni for days ranged from disappointment to anger and clear defiance of whatever decisions were taken by politicians in Brussels on Friday.

As dusk fell over the sprawling tent city housing at least 12,000 people, a small group of people started gathering on railway tracks shouting for a border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to open.

“They don't care about us,” said Gienat Al-Halil, a widow from the Syrian city of Aleppo. She wants to be reunited with her two children, aged 14 and 20, in Germany.

“I have nothing to lose and I will be here as long as it takes,” she told Reuters.

Under the pact, Turkey would take back all illegal migrants who cross to Greece, including Syrians, in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and rewarding it with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

Those who arrive in Greece from Sunday will be subject to being sent back to Turkey once they are registered and their asylum claim is processed.

Doubts remain about whether the deal is legal or workable.

It was not clear what would happen to the tens of thousands of migrants and refugees already in Greece.

“This is very very bad for us, but I have no choice. I will stay here,” said Husam, a 39-year-old Syrian from Homs.

“We cannot understand why the European Union is closing the borders,” said 21-year-old Bahjat Saris from Damascus.

“We don't want someone else to decide which country we will go and what we will do, how we will move.”


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