x

Society

Doctors Without Border Tears Greece Again Over Refugee Centers

March 26, 2019

With the European Union and Greece pointing the finger at each other over the handling of more than 70,000 refugees, Doctors Without Borders again slammed what it said were inhumane detention centers and camps, including on islands near Turkey.

The agency, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said children and other vulnerable groups should be moved, which Greece’s government has been doing, taking them from the islands to mainland centers, but at a rate critics said is too slow.

Most are seeking asylum after the EU closed its borders to them and reneged on promises to help take an overload that’s built up during a nearly nine-year-long economic crisis in Greece, which has largely been left alone to deal with the problem.

The EU and Turkey in March, 2016 signed a swap deal designed to slow the flow of refugees and migrants who had gone to Turkey to escape war and strife in their homelands and were being sent by human traffickers to Greece, mostly the islands, in hopes of reaching more prosperous European countries before the borders were slammed shut.

Turkey has taken back only a relative handful and MSF said that about 12,000 men, women, and children are trapped “in unsafe and degrading conditions in five Greek island camps, where they have little access to basic health services and suffer widespread misery.”

Twenty activist and human rights groups, including MSF, have been sounding that same clarion call but been ignored by the EU and Greece, as have island officials and residents, including those on Samos, within sight of Turkey, where many parents have refused to send their children to school with refugee children, fearing health risks.

“Greece has become a dumping ground for the men, women, and children that the European Union has failed to protect,” said Emmanuel Goue, MSF Head of Mission in Greece, the group said in a statement.

“What was once touted as a ‘refugee emergency’ has given way to inexcusable levels of human suffering across the Greek islands and on mainland Greece. The EU and Greek authorities continue to rob vulnerable people of their dignity and health, seemingly in an effort to deter others from coming. This policy is cruel, inhumane, and cynical, and it needs to end,” he added.

The swap deal has seen the numbers of refugees and migrants dwindle, but still keep coming at a smaller rate and the group said that since 2016, more than 5,000 people have arrived in Greece up to the start of 2019.

Most are from from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Democratic Republic of Congo. More than half are women and children.

MSF said at the Vathy camp, on Samos, conditions have deteriorated drastically in recent months due to severe overcrowding, leading the group to send a medical team back to the island in February.

The camp currently hosts more than 4,112 people in a space meant for 648, with thousands “languishing in a filthy and unsafe area outside the official camp. Those outside the camp include at least 79 unaccompanied children, as well as pregnant women, elderly people, people with chronic health conditions such as psychosis, and survivors of torture and sexual violence,” MSF said.

“The EU and the Greek government are still failing to provide dignified and humane living conditions and proper medical care to those trapped on the Greek islands,” said Vasilis Stravaridis, General Director of MSF Greece. “In Vathy, more than half the camp’s population is living in summer tents or under plastic sheeting, surrounded by rubbish and human excrement.”

On the Greek mainland, refugees and migrants who arrived after the EU-Turkey deal live in camps or in temporary accommodations run by the United Nations or aid organizations, while others sleep on the streets or in other rough conditions, the group said.

MSF said it has sent teams of psychologists to care for people suffering from mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis, and to rehabilitate survivors of torture tactics.

RELATED

KARDITSA, Greece - Months after investigations were started into the issuance of false COVID-19 documents, an administrative employee and a nurse at a health center in Greece's northern city of Karditsa were fired, the Health Ministry said.

Top Stories

Church

BOSTON – The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in its recent meeting dealt with the ecclesiastical coup perpetrated by the Patriarchate of Moscow in its canonical jurisdiction, calling it an “immoral invasion and intrusion.

Church

NEW YORK - Some 21 years after it was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City, the new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church rising in its place is among the most eagerly awaited architectural openings of 2022.

Events

STATEN ISLAND, NY – For yet another year, the community of Holy Trinity-St Nicholas in Staten Island honored couples celebrating 50+ years of marriage with a modest ceremony held at the church immediately following the Divine Liturgy on January 16.

Video

SNF’s Health Initiative Will Support Child and Adolescent Mental Health

ATHENS - When we think about childhood injuries, we usually think of scratches, a few stitches, maybe even a broken bone.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.