A rumour that the borders were about to open was the cause of tension on Sunday in the refugee and migrant camp in Idomeni, next to Greece’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with the refugees and migrants split into opposing camps: those that believed the rumours and those trying to dissuade them.
The two sides were ranged against each other on the railway tracks in the no-man’s land, with one group determined to cross the border and the other trying to explain that the border was not about to open and that it was futile.
Calm was eventually restored by Sunday afternoon, after some intense arguments and heated moments, monitored by a strong police presence on both sides of the border. The Greek police, with announcements in Arabic and Farsi, tried to dissuade people from gathering, warning that the border will not open and that their lives would be in danger if they attempted to cross.
Those massing at the border included people in wheelchairs and everyone was holding hands and waving white paper napkins in order to demonstrate – as they said – their peaceful intentions. Many were holding placards with the message “Don’t strike us,” “Freedom of movement is everyone’s right,” “Open the Borders” and “No violence. We only want to pass.”
Those gathering on the lines since early on Sunday were not only refugees and migrants from the camp but also from the relocation centres, such as Nea Kavala and Giannitsa, who had heard the rumours.
“We heard that the borders will open today and we came to pass. They told us that the Red Cross is with us and 500 journalists from all over the world,” said a young Syrian that had come with a group from Giannitsa earlier on Sunday. Italian activitists that arrived in Idomeni on Saturday and were reportedly among those inciting the refugees to attempt to cross the border on Sunday denied connection with the rumour.