Migrant families at a tent camp near the Greece-Macedonia border are trying to keep their spirits up in the face of sickness, rain, boredom, anxiety and a lack of information about whether they'll be able to continue their journey northward or be sent back to Turkey, Voice of America reports.
"Hope is all they have to drag them through days that swing between monotonous boredom hunched in their tents when it pours and a frantic scramble to get food and to repair tents when the sun shines," according to VOA.
About 35,000 migrants are stranded in Greece after neighboring Macedonia closed its borders on March 7. More than 13,000 are amassed in slum-like conditions near the border town of Idomeni in a camp built to accommodate 3,000 people, a Red Cross worker told The Daily Mail, and more are arriving every day.
The backlog is turning Greece into a "warehouse of souls," said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Migrants who don't make it to the border are hunkering down in Athens, where the U.N. has turned former Olympic facilities and an abandoned airport into camps for refugees.
Turkey made a surprise offer to take back migrants who have crossed into Greece from Turkey in exchange for 6 billion euros to help care for them, as well as the ability for Turkish citizens to travel in the EU without visas and expedited talks on membership in the EU. The offer also involves the EU resettling one Syrian refugee in Europe for each one sent back to Turkey. EU leaders hailed the proposed deal as a breakthrough, while the U.N. and various human rights groups warned that sending refugees back to Turkey from Greece would violate European and international law.
One of the sticking points of the debate is the difference between a refugee and migrant, and the ranks of people fleeing to Europe include both. All refugees are migrants, but not all migrants are refugees — and those that are not must be processed through regular immigration channels.
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