In 2015, Europe started to close its borders to refugees whose only choice was to leave their homes in search of safety and security in Europe. In March 2016, the EU signed a deal with Turkey to slow the arrival of refugees into Greece and agreed to settle those that had already arrived in EU territory.
We arrived in Greece in April 2016 to help support the refugees on new camps that were set up for those refugees trapped in Greece.
We've seen a slow improvement in living conditions on the mainland. But conditions are still dreadful, people are waiting far too long for their applications to be processed, the southern border countries are shouldering the burden and still the refugees come.
As a continent we have failed the refugees both morally and politically.
So at the end of April 2018, 19 of us will be Re-tracing the Refugee Route from Idomeni to Skopje in FYR Macedonia. We want to raise awareness that there are still tens of thousands of people trapped in Greece and they need our support.
Europe needs to show more solidarity, please join us by supporting however you can.
Day 1: 29th April
Today we meet in Thessaloniki at 5.45pm at the Archaeological Museum for a transfer to Alexandreia, where Refugee Support Europe started 2 years ago. We meet at our hotel at 7pm for a welcome dinner and trip briefing. Overnight stay in the friendliest hotel in Greece: Hotel Manthos.
Day 2: 30th April
After breakfast we transfer to the village of Idomeni, the site of the one of the largest unofficial camps in Greece and symbolic of the crisis when the borders were closed. We have a first stretch of our legs following the route many refugees would have taken from the EKO petrol station camp to the supermarket for supplies. We’ll then transfer to Idomeni train station and regroup at a Kafeneon by the train station where you can discuss the significance of this town for refugees. From here you can see the border with FYROM however due to border restrictions we cannot walk towards the border and will instead follow the old road out of Idomeni, tracing the steps of refugees on their way to the border. We’ll have a late lunch at a local restaurant and this afternoon we will transfer to our overnight accommodation in Kilkis. Approx. 5 hours walking
Day 3: 1st May
We have a short bus transfer to our starting point in the village of Xirovrisi and walk between the fields on village tracks towards the border. We’ll have a picnic lunch en-route and as we near the border we’ll join a path alongside the road towards the Greek shores of Lake Dojran where our transport will be waiting for us. We jump on the bus to take us across the border and into FYR Macedonia and onto our accommodation in Star Dojran. Approx. 6-7 hours walking
Day 4: 2nd May
Today we follow the path alongside Lake Dojran taking us through Old Dojran and into to New Dojran. The lake path soon becomes farmers tracks between fields as we work our way towards our lunch spot on the edge of Lake Paljurci. This afternoon we take a short transfer to the start of a popular path taken by refugees following the flow of the river from Bogdansti. We then meet our bus and transfer to Gevgelia, the first main town across the border in FYROM. Approx. 6 hours walking.
Day 5: 3rd May
This morning we transfer out of Gevgelia along the main road, a route that was taken on foot by many refugees. Our trail today starts at Udover and follows the river as it snakes through the gorge towards Demir Kapija. This area has long been a popular route for people moving north and south through FYROM and the name Demir Kapija means ‘Iron Gates’, a reference to the impressive and imposing cliff faces of the gorge with the river flowing between. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch en-route before continuing to the town where our transfer will collect us for the journey to our hotel on Mladost Lake. Approx. 7-8 hours walking.
Day 6: 4th May
Today will start with a morning walk along the banks of Lake Mdalost, a refreshing way to start the day! After breakfast back at the hotel we’ll set off onto the little used ‘old road to Skopje’. This was a route taken by many refugees on their route to Skopje and our trek finishes where the road meets the town of Katalano, famed for its natural thermal baths! This afternoon we transfer to Skopje for our final night’s accommodation. Approx. 8 hours walking
Day 7: 5th May
After breakfast this morning we make our own way to the airport for our journey home.