More than 100 people live at a makeshift camp at least four days stranded at the border between Macedonia and Serbia, daily walking in the mud and spending rainy nights under the tents. March 11, 2016.
A border village of Tabanovce in Macedonia is about 63 kilometers from Skopje by train. The dusty blue train with several train cars almost empty departures from a train station in Skopje to Belgrade, Serbia. Tabanovce is the second stop after Kumanovo. Compared to the summer period, when refugees and migrants transited through Macedonia, overcrowded the trains, and revived the train traveling; now the train is empty. Rare passengers ask me if I travel to the refugee camp. I nodded and exchanged several words about the human aspect of the crisis. Local people in the area already know about refugees and make no negative reactions.
Train station in Tabanovci is an old one, but it is bordering areas and some of the movements are in the scope of the police. A police officer briefly explains the procedure for entering the camp or the transit center. The paperwork could not be done today, but another permit I have for another border crossing makes the work easy. Together with a police officer we approach to the tents of the camp, but from the railways. With Idomeni at the spot of the news in the neighboring Greece, the situation of the strained refugees at Tabanovci is in the shadow.
More than 1000 people are in the camp for three weeks and could not continue their travel toward the countries they want to go, notably Germany or some other European Union countries. Spring rain makes the life around the transit refugee center at the Tabanovce is not tranquil either for children or for elderly people.
Children and youngster wait in line peacefully for a yellow-plastic bag with a food. Shortly after the rain stops, some of the children from the camp played with a ball close to the railways.
Children, aged two and four approaches toward the camera and smiled. One of them is playing not matter the rain continues after the shortstop without disturbance and comprehension that his family decided to leave Afghanistan and illegally travel for three months through several countries. Who knows what memento, these empty rail miles from their homes could mean for them in the future.
Now, with the Balkan route officially ended and with the border closed, all those people reside at the transit center in Tabanovce. At least, many international organizations are in the camp and succor as much as they can. On five minutes walk above the camp; behind the houses of the local residents, a group of refugees and migrants live at least four days in the makeshift tents in the area close to the border area of Macedonia and Serbia. In the green fields the rain falling in the past several days is causing mud. The walking through the mud is difficult, but women, men, young and children wait peacefully for the outcome of their situation on the pastoral side of the border.
Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and other countries in Balkan closed the borders and some of them are now returning the refugees to other countries. An elderly woman using a piece of wood is digging in the mud with a yellow rain shoes. The weather forecast for the next days for the region, says: “It will rain.” What are the options? Possible transfer to the transit center, where at least, could have a food and be in a safer place. However, the crowded camp and restricted movement of the refugees and migrants are not calm whereabouts to anyone.