The New York Times reports: Taha al-Ahmad’s family is sleeping in mud. His youngest daughter, age 1, lies beneath wet blankets, coughing inside their soggy tent. It has rained for days. Portable toilets are overflowing. Men burn firewood to stay warm. A drone circles overhead. Television trucks beam images of misery to the world.
It is primeval, and surreal, this squalid, improvised border camp of 12,000 refugees, a padlocked waiting room for entering the rest of Europe. Mr. Ahmad, barely two weeks out of Syria, does not understand why his family cannot cross the Macedonian border — roughly a football field away — and continue toward Germany. Hundreds of thousands of migrants passed through last year, but now Macedonia is closed. Europe’s door is slamming shut.
“I am in a very high degree of miserable,” Mr. Ahmad told me, speaking in a singsong English he learned in Syria, as our shoes sank into the muck.
“I ask my friends in Germany and Turkey: ‘What is happening? Tell us,’” he said. “We don’t know what is happening outside.”
To Mr. Ahmad, “outside” is the world of politics and policy beyond the wretchedness of the Idomeni camp. In Idomeni, refugees exist in a decrepit suspended animation. Disease spreads. Grandmothers sleep beside train tracks. Outside, specifically in Brussels, the leaders of the European Union, under public pressure to stop the migrant flow, will begin discussing the fate of refugees on Thursday, and a disputed plan to deport them to Turkey. [Continue reading…]