As Greek police relocate migrants and refugees from the informal Idomeni camp, photographer Kelly Lynn Lunde documents a 1,300-strong settlement at a gas station next door, one of several nearby refuges that have sprung up over the past several months.
Once a forgettable rest stop outside the city of Polykastro in the north of Greece, the local EKO gas station has served for the past several months as a refuge for roughly 1,300 refugees waiting to cross into Macedonia. Most are Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish families who chose it over the crowded and intense Idomeni camp, 12 miles (20km) to the north, where 11,000 other refugees have been camping.
It turned out to be a prudent decision. While the owners of the gas station have allowed the refugees to stay, this week Greek police started evacuating thousands of migrants from Idomeni. They will be moved to facilities where the conditions mirror those at detention centers in Lesbos, with barbed wires, no freedom of movement and exasperating delays in asylum applications.
The refugees at the EKO camp have been living in tents provided by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) and other independent organizations. They make up just one of several informal encampments along the highway.
In April, many of the refugees, whose movements have been stifled by the shuttering of various borders, staged a demonstration on the highway. Their protest was also a reaction to the E.U.-Turkey deal that would return many of them en masse to Turkey, and which has led to further closures of the border into Macedonia and across the Balkan route into northern Europe.
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Organizers of the protests allowed regular vehicles to pass but blocked shipping trucks that use the thoroughfare to cross the border. For five days, the protesters pitched tents on the highway, played music, cooked food, danced and slept there through the night. They simply wanted to bring attention to their desperate living conditions in the faint hope they would be allowed to pass through the Balkan route.
A significant number of those at the EKO camp and elsewhere in Greece are hoping to join immediate family members already in Germany, Sweden and other European countries. According to UNHCR, 40 percent of those who arrived in March 2016 were under 18 years of age.