In the heat of the midday sun, the fields and woodlands between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia look idyllic: birds sing, the grass is smudged with wild poppies, all seems quiet. But this picture of pastoral peace is, I’m afraid, an illusion. This is Greece’s Wild West, a lawless and desperate place known as ‘The Jungle’, where people are beaten up every day.
‘It’s dangerous out there,’ says the fat Greek policeman standing with me, just north of the village of Idomeni. Then he waddles back to his car.
The predators in this jungle are Afghan people-smugglers, their prey the poor migrants who have struggled here from all over Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The steady crunch of gravel that carries through the air with the birdsong grows louder as we approach a railway line.