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Stranded Syrians Celebrate Nowruz in Idomeni

Hundreds of Syrian Kurdish refugees celebrated the holiday of Nowruz, marking the beginning of the Persian New Year, along Greece’s border with Macedonia. They have been stuck in Idomeni along with around 10,000 other migrants after Macedonian authorities sealed the border earlier this month.

Written by Jesselyn Cook Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes

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, the WorldPost reports, 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 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:

This article originally appeared on TheWorldPost, a partnership between the Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute. For weekly updates about international news, opinion and analysis, sign up for The WorldPost email list.

Top image: Kurdish Syrians dance around a bonfire in Greece’s Idomeni camp along the Macedonian border in celebration of the Nowruz holiday. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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