HUFFINGTON POST

Hundreds Of Stranded Syrians Celebrate The Persian New Year In Greek Refugee Camp

The Nowruz holiday, which is a celebration of rebirth, means "New Day."
Kurdish Syrians chanted and danced around a large bonfire in Idomeni, Greece, on Sunday to celebrate the beginning of Nowruz,
Kurdish Syrians chanted and danced around a large bonfire in Idomeni, Greece, on Sunday to celebrate the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

More than 1,000 miles away from home, refugees were singing, dancing and smiling in a squalid tent city on the Greek-Macedonian border on Sunday, celebrating Nowruz -- the beginning of the Persian New Year. 

Nowruz in Farsi, or Newroz in Kurdish, means "New Day." The holiday begins on the first day of Spring and continues for nearly two weeks.

In the tent camp in Idomeni, hundreds of Kurdish refugees who fled the violence raging in Syria, celebrated the holiday by dancing and chanting around a blazing bonfire. The celebrations marked a brief return of joy amid harsh living conditions and deep uncertainty about the refugees' future.  

Hundreds of Kurds who escaped the brutality of Syria's civil war united in celebration.
Hundreds of Kurds who escaped the brutality of Syria's civil war united in celebration.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have risked their lives to make the dangerous journey to Greece, crossing through Turkey then traveling by boat across the Aegean Sea, to escape the brutality of Syria's civil war and find refuge in Europe. 

But the influx of migrants and refugees has overwhelmed European nations. In the past two weeks, Balkan countries have kept their borders firmly closed, leaving an estimated 50,000 migrants and refugees trapped in Greece. On Sunday, a controversial deal between the European Union and Turkey went into effect, mandating that all undocumented migrants who cross through Turkey to Greece will be returned to Turkey.  

For the more than 10,000 migrants and refugees who have endured squalid conditions in Idomeni in the hopes the Greek-Macedonia border would reopen, it is unclear what the future will bring. 

Scroll down to see more photos from the Nowruz celebrations at the Idomeni camp:

  • Kurdish Syrians set up Kurdish and Greek flags at the Nowruz celebrations.
    ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images
    Kurdish Syrians set up Kurdish and Greek flags at the Nowruz celebrations.
  • A child clutches her toy during Nowruz, which marks the start of the Persian New Year on the first day of Spring.
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    A child clutches her toy during Nowruz, which marks the start of the Persian New Year on the first day of Spring.
  • Children with face paint pose for a photo together as Nowruz celebrations go on in the distance in the makeshi
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    Children with face paint pose for a photo together as Nowruz celebrations go on in the distance in the makeshift refugee camp.
  • A woman paints a child's face at a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border.
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    A woman paints a child's face at a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border.
  • Smoke billows from a large bonfire where Kurdish refugees united in celebration.
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    Smoke billows from a large bonfire where Kurdish refugees united in celebration.
  • Kurds celebrate Nowruz around a bonfire, displaying Greek and Kurdish flags.
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    Kurds celebrate Nowruz around a bonfire, displaying Greek and Kurdish flags.
  • A smiling family poses for a photograph as they celebrate Nowruz.
    LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
    A smiling family poses for a photograph as they celebrate Nowruz.
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