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The baby born in hell: Tragic migrant mother gives birth in the squalor of Idomeni's tent city and washes the child in a PUDDLE

March 12, 2016 11:56 AM
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This is the shocking moment as a migrant mother is forced to bathe her infant child in a puddle in the Greek border village of Idomeni.

Several thousand migrants are stuck around the frontier as Balkan countries sealed their borders to prevent the families from continuing their journey northwards.

The mother is one of about 14,000 people stuck on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia. Around 2,000 migrants a day are arriving in Greece, only a fraction of that number are leaving. The backlog is causing a major problem. In the camp in Idomeni, there have been fights among refugees as aid organisations tried to distribute supplies and food.

Over the past week, some 70 children at the camp have been hospitalised suffering from fever and diarrhoea. The shocking image of the infant being washed in a puddle was taken on March 6. Since then, conditions have deteriorated further.

The camp has been hit by torrential rain over the past few days making it difficult for the migrants to start fires.

Government health experts at the camp say there is no sign yet of an infectious disease outbreak, but have been urging refugees at Idomeni to move to nearby army-built shelters.

At the nation's main port of Piraeus, near Athens, authorities began transporting hundreds of migrants and refugees to shelters in central Greece to try to ease overcrowding there.

The government says nearly 42,000 people are stranded in Greece following border restrictions and closures by Austria and several Balkan countries that started last month.

According to the International Organisation of Migration, 148,866 people have arrived in Europe by sea from Africa, Asia and the Middle East since January 1.

Five migrants, including a three-month-old baby drowned when a speedboat taking them from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. Nine people, believed to be Afghan and Iranians were rescued from the water.

The president of Macedonia has defended his decision to close the border, claiming his country would have been 'flooded with jihadists'.

Gjorge Ivanov spoke out as 14,000 migrants desperate to make the journey through his country to Germany were stuck in a refugee camp at the border with Greece.

Macedonia shut its borders this week as countries along the route tried to halt the increasing flow of people, to criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Ivanov said security forces had seized 9,000 false passports. 'We have to assume that many of these people who were travelling with forged papers want to enter the EU via the refugee route as radical fighters,' he said.

Approximately 400 refugees managed to catch what has been described as 'The Last Train to Europe' from Idomeni through Macedonia.

Yousif Shikmous from Syria wanted to bring his family to Germany. He named his new born son Merkkel. He and his family are now stuck on the Macedonian border with Serbia.

The group of mostly women and small children had caught a northbound train that took them to the border with Serbia. But instead of moving on, they found themselves in a no-man's-land between the Macedonian and Serbian frontiers - mired in a muddy limbo created by the latest chaos marking Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.

Thousands of people now are similarly stuck along the route through the Balkans that saw more than one million people surge out of Turkey, through Greece and toward the wealthier nations of Europe in 2015.

Refused permission to move onward, they are caught by the suddenly changing entry rules and living in dire conditions in small, donated tents. And more people fleeing war and poverty keep streaming out of the Middle East and elsewhere.

It took two months for the Shikhmous family - 32-year-old Yousif, his 20-year-old wife, Dilan Haji, and young Merkkel - to escape the Syrian civil war. Their journey began in the town of Hasaka in northeastern Syria, where their son was born and named for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even though they spell his name differently.

They went via Turkey and over the Aegean Sea to Greece, crossed the Greece-Macedonia border on foot, and boarded a special train to take the refugees to Serbia, paying £20 per person.

They reached the Serbian border Monday, where they got off the train to cross the frontier on foot and be taken to a refugee center for processing to continue the journey north.

But nations along the Balkans route have been tightening border restrictions this month on migrants and refugees. This week, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia suddenly refused them transit.

The Shikhmous family and the other refugees never made it across the Serbian border, having been told it had been shut to them for good. Still technically in Macedonia, they can see the Serbian border police patrol about 50 yards away.

They also learned that Macedonian authorities would no longer take them, having already stamped their papers.

They found themselves trapped, with no shelter or help. For four nights, they have been staying in a sodden field.

They stayed in the field, with border police keeping guard behind barricades. As heavy rain started falling, the vast grass field turned into pools of water and ankle-deep mud, strewn with garbage and small fires for warmth. Stray dogs roamed nearby, looking for food scraps amid the waste.

After a day or two, aid groups brought warm clothes, food, rubber boots and jackets, he said. They set up portable toilets and distributed tents. Doctors arrived to check on the children, many of whom have fallen sick with fever and respiratory and stomach ailments.

Loud coughing echoed through the makeshift camp Friday as refugees lined up for hot soup, many trembling, and some without shoes or warm jackets.

'They are in a very difficult situation. It has been raining, and the living conditions are horrible here,' said Mohammad Arif, the U.N. refugee agency representative in Macedonia.

Arif said that aid organizations have been trying to get those in the camp to move to a nearby migrant center already hosting several hundred people.

Macedonian authorities agreed Thursday evening to allow the refugees to move there, he added, but many people refuse, still holding out hope that the border with Serbia will suddenly open and allow them through.

'The refugees say, `Don't take us a step back; take us a step forward,' Arif said.

On Tuesday, the EU and Turkey agreed on the outlines of a deal - set to be finalised next week - that would send thousands of people back to Turkey. In return, the EU would take an equal number of Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Turkey.

In this way, officials hope to keep would-be refugees from dangerous sea journeys and ruthless smugglers. But some human rights activists believe the plan is illegal or could simply drive refugees to other, even more hazardous routes. Albanian police have increased their presence on the border with Greece.

Greece has begun sending back to Turkey dozens of people who do not qualify for international protection as asylum seekers, Turkish officials said. Most were from Pakistan and north Africa.

At the makeshift camp near the Serbian border, Mouaz Estwani said he does not want to return to Aleppo in northern Syria, which has seen fierce fighting in recent months.

'We don't want to go back - we are out of Macedonia now,' Estwani said, even if it meant spending weeks in the muddy camp.

Amid the chaos, Greece said it has managed to deport 81 economic migrants from Pakistan and north Africa. A Greek police statement said that 61 Pakistanis, seven Algerians and 13 Moroccans were picked up by Turkish authorities at a border crossing. All had entered Greece illegally from Turkey.

The police statement says Turkey refused to take in another nine north Africans due to problems with their documentation, but did not provide further details.

The NATO secretary-general says the alliance now has five warships deployed in the Aegean Sea as part of joint efforts with the European Union to stop the smuggling of migrants to Europe, with the focal point of operations a Greek island just five miles (nine kilometers) from Turkey.

The German Embassy in Tirana says that 806 Albanians were repatriated from Germany last week after their asylum requests were rejected.

An embassy statement said Thursday that the number of Albanian deportations from Germany this year is about 3,400, part of a total of 55,000 who asked for asylum in 2015.

Last year, Albanians were the fourth-biggest group of asylum-seekers in Germany after Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis, in search of better living standards and jobs.

Other people from western Balkan nations like Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia also have sought asylum in Germany, but Berlin considers them to be safe countries where individuals are unlikely to face the kind of persecution that would warrant asylum.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has toured the overcrowded refugee camp at the Idomeni crossing on Greece's northern border with Macedonia.

Nuland met Thursday with local government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss living conditions at the site.

About 14,000 people are camped in the mud at Idomeni, or housed in an overflowing official camp, hoping that Macedonia will allow them to continue their trek north to central Europe. Greek authorities have urged the refugees to move to other organised shelters in northern Greece, as there is no immediate prospect of the border reopening.

Nuland also visited the Macedonian side of the crossing, speaking to Macedonian officials and police personnel from Slovenia, Serbia and other countries helping Macedonia patrol its border.


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Comments - 2
by cat

March 12, 2016 11:56 AM

Shocked at scumbags red arrows, you really are the ...

by Jack Roth

March 12, 2016 11:56 AM

Heartbreaking, and an embarrassment to all the MeMe...