Idomeni: Our Photo Album from the Refugee Town That Once Was

As the sun rose last Tuesday morning, the Greek Authorities started evacuating the Idomeni refugee camp at the border of Greece and FYROM where approximately 10,000 refugees had been living in dire conditions for months on end. As the refugees packed up their few belongings and said goodbye to the makeshift tents in puddles of muddy water in which they have been living, we wanted to share with you photos we shot from what once was the largest refugee town in Greece. [Cover photo by Joanna Kalafatis]

idomeni border FYROM
FYROM completely shut its border in February, leaving 8,500 refugees seeking to travel to northern Europe to bottleneck at the Greek-FYROM border.

idomeni camp clothes hanging
The refugees were forced to live in a dirt field that floods with mud and rain.

idomeni police sweep
Over 400 riot police oversee the evacuation of the camp. They sweep tents and the entire compound as reporters and journalists have been banned from the area.

idomeni night
From war-torn countries to Idomeni camp. As night falls at Idomeni camp in Northern Greece refugees seek shelter in tents. In winter months average temperatures dropped below freezing.

idomeni evac railways
Refugees’ makeshift tents line the railways in an attempt to stop trains and transportation of goods in hopes that the border at FYROM will be opened. This attempt proved to be futile, as they now realize that they will not be crossing the border anytime soon.

idomeni riot police bus
Over 20 riot police buses lined the parameters of the camp as the evacuation process began.

idomeni tents rails
The railway became a home for many at the sprawling camp.

idomeni UNHCR
Signs of hope left behind. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is one of many groups that have interacted with the Idomeni camp. Countless groups of volunteers have provided food, water, and even free German and English lessons to the refugees. They were not allowed to take part in or witness the evacuation of the camp.

idomeni woman children
Families make up the majority of the refugees at Idomeni camp.

idomeni woman belongings
Refugees have a simple existence with no modern conveniences at Idomeni and hope their next destination will have more water and electricity available.

idomeni family tent
Families usually bathed their children in buckets of water at the camp, which had almost none proper facilities for bathing.

idomeni dr clinic
A free medical clinic was made available to the refugees who suffered from sickness, mainly due to the living conditions over the harsh winter months and from their difficult journeys to reach Greece.

idomeni kids fence
Refugee children dream of crossing the border at FYROM and moving on with their families to other European countries to start their new lives.

idomeni refugees fleeing
Often refugees would try to cross to FYROM with the help of smugglers. Here, this family crossing the Suva Reka river at the border, was caught on FYROM soil and forced to return to Greece.

idomeni darkness
The dark, still night falls on the camp that now resembles a ghost town.

idomeni refugees
The future remains uncertain for the 10,000 individuals who had been residing at Idomeni camp.

idomeni children field
Children still find moments of childhood even though they have been forced to grow up much sooner than anyone ever should.

idomeni cooking
Refugees forced to leave their war-torn countries that are full of violence are still struggling to survive on basic levels.

idomeni tents vac
The human dignity of the refugees is often overlooked, living in tents pushed up against the border of Greece and FYROM.

idomeni night 2
At times the camp appeared to resemble a conflict zone rather than a safe haven for refugees.

idomeni child rail
A toddler plays with rocks on the abandoned railway.

idomeni handprints
Leaving their mark. The crisis at Idomeni camp has captured the attention of the world, although little has been done to help them.

idomeni msg
In the words of the refugees, a wise message to the world.

Subscribe here to get Greek Reporter's latest news stories and content delivered to your inbox, once daily!