An Iraqi man washes his daugher with a bottle of water, before putting her to sleep at their unprovisioned camp in the center of the city of Kos island late on August 17, 2015
EDOMENI (Greece) (AFP) - Beyond the fields of sunflowers on the other side of the railway tracks outside a small village in northern Greece, hundreds of refugees gather on a patch of litter-strewn earth beneath the beating sun, uncertain of what happens next.
Two stone blocks and half a dozen Macedonian policemen are the only border markings at what has become a funnelling point for tens of thousands of men, women and children taking this route to northern Europe in search of a better life.
After landing on the Greek islands from Turkey, many of the refugees and migrants are hurrying to the border without waiting for the authorities to issue them with official travel documents, desperate to cross Serbia before Hungary fences off its border.
"As Syrian refugees, all of us feel lost," says 29-year-old English teacher Ruba Mustafa.
After fleeing her hometown, the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqa in Syria, she lost all her belongings in the crossing from Turkey when she was forced to throw her bag into the sea when her boat started taking on water.
Travelling with her brothers and their wives, she does not know where they will end up.
"We’re searching for peace and a happy life, because in our country we lost this," she says.
"We’re looking for a safe place where people will receive us as human beings."
- 'Too many people' -
While most of the 1,000-2,000 people crossing each day are Syrians, there is also an Afghan family, the youngest daughter playing with a blonde doll in the dirt, groups of men from Pakistan and Iraq, and a tattooed Iranian couple who say they are Christians fleeing persecution.
Every half hour, police wave through a group of 50-100 to catch a cross-country train towards Serbia.
An officer ushers away a refugee who is offering him a peach. What he needs, he says, is more resources.
"This is a big problem. Too many people."
"Wolf", 27, a professional ballet dancer from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, flips through his notebook where he has recorded his journey in page after page of dream-like drawings: people traffickers depicted as wild beasts, tired feet, a swirl of faces.
"These are the faces of the people," he says. "Some of them despair, some of them optimistic, some of them happy. You can see hope sometimes, sometime no.
"We don’t have a lot to lose now. We just keep going to our goal whatever.”
More than 160,000 refugees and migrants have landed this year in Greece, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saying the debt-ridden country is unable to cope.
Fellow EU member Hungary, which has already registered over 100,000 asylum seekers this year, plans to finish its anti-migrant fence on the Serbian border by the end of August.
The European Union has pledged new funding for what it calls the worst refugee crisis since World War II, but what little help there is on offer in Edomeni is made up of a small network of locals handing out donated water, food and clothes, and a team from Medecins Sans Frontieres.
"Why are you helping us?" says one man after being given a small bottle of water. "We're running from war but nobody helped us since we entered Greece."
- 'They will find a way' -
Vasilis Tsartsanis, 42, organises local volunteers and began helping 11 months ago "when the border was controlled by the mafia" and migrants were being beaten and robbed.
He believes closing Europe's borders will not stop the refugees but will only leave them prey to human traffickers, gangs, and corrupt police.
"Let's be honest, let's have a little courage and face the reality -- they don’t have anything to lose, they can't return back to Syria or Iraq so they will pass into Europe, they will find a way," he says.
Nearby an MSF psychologist plays games with a group of children in the hope of providing a rare sense of normality.
A young Syrian boy smiles and laughs and it is only when he is put in a wheelbarrow to be rolled across the border that it becomes clear he cannot walk, after he was hit by a bullet.
Many of the arrivals are from middle-class backgrounds, well-dressed and carrying smartphones. "Some of them look like tourists," says a Greek bus driver, a reminder that war can wrench anybody from their home.
It may be a well-trodden route, but the migrants rely on Facebook and word-of-mouth to navigate their journeys, and even at the border they are confused when police stop them from passing, uncertain when or if they will be allowed to cross.
Unwilling to fight for President Bashar al-Assad's regime, 24-year-old Omar Abdi fled Syria and was smuggled across the land border with Turkey, paying 2,500 euros, sleeping in forests and on the street.
Without travel papers from the Greek authorities he was not allowed to board a bus in Greece's second city Thessaloniki, and like many others walked the 80 kilometre (50 mile) road, arriving exhausted but somehow still smiling.
"I don't want to kill people, I just want to study, not to carry weapons and guns, not to shoot people," says the English literature graduate.
"They destroyed our dreams, they destroyed my future.
"Most of us have suffered a lot already. We are just doing our best to live a better life."