On Monday 4 April 2016, Europe witnessed the implementation of a deal struck between Turkey and the European Union, a deal that will see any migrant crossing from Turkey to Greece “illegally” deported back.
In return, those granted refugee status while in Turkey will be relocated at random somewhere in Europe – a deal that will see up to 72,000 refugees accepted into European nations. It’s a figure that represents just three percent of all the refugees in Turkey, and only 36% of those currently stuck in Greece.
Despite evidence that the Turkish government are illegally returning Syrian refugees to the war-torn country, the EU deal has gone ahead.
Photographer Gus Palmer was on the ground as this deal was put into action, making his way to the small village of Idomeni on the Greek Macedonian Border.
Although nothing had changed when he arrived, and nobody had yet been deported, but tensions were running high. There’s a sense of desperation that prevails, Palmer explains. The fact that this life of purgatory and displacement is still seen as preferable to what many are escaping from says it all.
“This is yet again, a massive failure of the EU to act on a worsening situation and humanitarian crisis”, reflects Palmer. “It would seem that Idomeni is the latest set of large iron gates at Europe’s frontier. Greece has been ousted from the Schengen area and left to fend for its self, as the European lines are pushed further and further back.”
There are now approximately 11 000 people living in and around the small picturesque Greek village, with very little infrastructure put in place. Informal settlements are found around every corner. Tensions often flare with the locals, it’s a situation that nobody is happy with.
From cow sheds to train garages to old concrete farm buildings, men women and children are shacking up in any spare space, going to bed at night hoping that one day they’ll wake up to an open border.