Asylum-Seekers Stuck At Greece-Macedonia Border Angered By Their Plight Thousands are still living in appalling conditions hoping the border will open and they will be allowed to head to northern Europe, but it's become increasingly clear that's not going to happen.
NPR logo

Asylum-Seekers Stuck At Greece-Macedonia Border Angered By Their Plight

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/472501008/472501009" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Asylum-Seekers Stuck At Greece-Macedonia Border Angered By Their Plight

Asylum-Seekers Stuck At Greece-Macedonia Border Angered By Their Plight

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/472501008/472501009" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing in foreign language).

(APPLAUSE)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That's the sound of people passing time, people who have nothing but time. It's a migrant singing to other migrants while they're all stuck in Greece. They're not allowed to cross the border into Macedonia, the next country over. Reality is sinking in at the camp where our colleague Joanna Kakissis found them.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Foreign language spoken).

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The men sit on dusty railroad tracks listening to chants about open borders through a borrowed speaker. They've camped out on the tracks for days. Families have also pitched tents here. Ismail Ali, a former printing factory manager from Raqqa, Syria, organized the protest.

ISMAIL ALI: (Speaking Arabic).

KAKISSIS: We're trying to pressure Macedonia to open the border, he says, by blockading freight headed north. Some 11,000 asylum-seekers - mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans - are stuck here. That's because the European Union closed its doors to migrants earlier this month. Most like Abdullah Abdullah wanted to travel north to countries like Germany. He's a 27-year-old environmental engineer from Aleppo, Syria.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: (Speaking Arabic).

KAKISSIS: Why don't the Europeans want us, he says. We are smart people. We work very hard. We can do a lot of good in Europe. It's not fair. Ahmad al-Mohammadi is a lanky computer scientist from Fallujah, Iraq. He brews tea over a campfire. He's been sleeping in a tent here for 40 days.

AHMAD AL-MOHAMMADI: I have a hope that Angela Merkel and Germany people - I hope they do something to open this border. I stay here because I just think that maybe - maybe - they just see us in eyes of mercy and open this border for us.

YARAH: (Speaking Arabic).

KAKISSIS: And then there are the families. I found one sleeping in an abandoned railcar. Hanan Tikleh is 24, here with her husband Mohammed and their children. Their 6-year-old daughter, Yarah, and 4-year-old son, Mustafa.

HANAN TIKLEH: (Speaking Arabic).

KAKISSIS: One guy just came here, she says, and told me that five European countries would send planes to take us to our new lives. But she shakes head. Tikleh knows it's not true and that for now, they will get no farther than this camp. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Idomeni, Greece.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.