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Greece: Latest MSF Updates

Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF's 2014 International Activity Report:

Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Greece in 2014, many on their way to northern Europe

Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers continued to be detained with limited access to health care or basic services. Living conditions in detention centers remained extremely poor. Overcrowding, substandard hygiene, and inadequate heating, hot water, and ventilation led to the outbreak and spread of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and dermatological diseases. In April, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report, Invisible Suffering, documenting the massive impact of detention on the physical and mental health of migrants and asylum seekers. Many of those detained have no or limited access to the outdoors. The report also highlighted the gaps in health care provision and the absence of medical assessments, as well as the detrimental effects of prolonged detention on the health of migrants and asylum seekers due to lack of necessary care or interruption of treatment.

In Evros region, MSF provided medical consultations and psychosocial support to people being held at detention centers in Komotini and Filakio, and in the police stations of Feres and Soufli. Nearly 600 relief kits were distributed to help people maintain a basic level of hygiene, health, and dignity. In March, these activities were handed over to EKEPI.

In 2014, more than 42,000 people—almost 80 percent of them from Syria—crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Dodecanese Islands. Many were forced to sleep outside or in overcrowded police cells while waiting to be transferred to the Greek mainland, as there were not enough suitable facilities to host them. Towards the end of the year, MSF launched two emergency interventions, providing medical care and distributing more than 2,000 kits containing sleeping bags and hygiene items such as soap.


In September, in collaboration with two Greek organizations, MSF opened a project in Athens offering medical rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, for asylum seekers and migrants who have been victims of torture.

At the end of 2014, MSF had 10 field staff in Greece. MSF has been providing medical assistance in the country since 1991.

Patient Story

Samira,* 17 years old, Lesvos

“In the Ghazni region of Afghanistan where we used to live, my father was killed, and my mother and two sisters were raped. I was the only one spared, so we decided to flee. We walked for months through mountains in the dark and the cold. We reached Lesvos island in extreme exhaustion. Here we feel safe; we received help from Médecins Sans Frontières and the local population.

At the border with Iran they separated us from one of our sisters: they put her in another truck and since then we’ve lost track of her. We want to go and live in a peaceful place, where our lives won’t be at risk.”

*  The patient's name has been changed

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