Why are we there?

  • Health care exclusion
  • Refugees and IDPs

Greece: Latest MSF Updates

Our Work

This is an excerpt from MSF's 2015 International Activity Report:

More than 856,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea or land in Greece in 2015, making it the main entry point for people attempting to reach Europe.

Volunteers and civil society organisations mobilized to help new arrivals, and MSF provided healthcare. A third of the people landing on Greece’s shores were women and children. Approximately 91 per cent came from countries affected by war and violence – predominantly Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Most disembarked on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. On Lesbos alone, as many as 6,000 people were arriving each day in October.

Lesbos and Samos

In July, MSF opened clinics in Moria and Kara Tepe camps on Lesbos and set up a mobile clinic in the port, where thousands of people waited out in the open in sweltering heat to travel on to Athens. MSF improved water and sanitation facilities, provided waste management and installed chemical toilets and water points in Moria. The team also organised buses to transport new arrivals to the registration centers, located 43 miles away, and for medical referrals. A transit center was opened in Matamados to provide assistance to new arrivals, including shelter, transportation, food, blankets and wi-fi (enabling contact with families and friends). Over 16,100 medical consultations were carried out and 3,000 people received mental health support.

An MSF team began to offer medical assistance to people landing on Samos in October. A mobile team welcomed them and transferred them to the registration office at the main port, where staff conducted medical consultations. The team also distributed relief items and an average of 540 meals a day to those living in the reception center.

MSF was the only humanitarian organisation present on Agathonisi, a small island near Samos. A team met arrivals and provided shelter and medical care.

Dodecanese Islands

As there were no official reception systems on any of the Dodecanese Islands, MSF started to provide shelter, food and medical screening on Kos in March. In September, local authorities closed Captain Elias camp, an abandoned hotel used by asylum seekers as temporary shelter and where MSF provided basic emergency assistance. The migrants and refugees had few options but to sleep outdoors in Kos town until MSF set up a tent camp near an archaeological park. There, a team worked with other organisations to offer basic medical and humanitarian assistance.

In June MSF started operating a mobile medical clinic visiting Leros, Simi, Tilos and Kalymnos islands. MSF established a permanent presence on Leros in September, with teams working on shelter, water and sanitation and providing mental health support and basic healthcare. Across Kos and Leros, the team carried out over 14,000 medical consultations and provided mental health support to 6,000 people. MSF teams also distributed 35,358 relief kits (soap, blankets, etc) to people who had lost their belongings during the journey.

On the Mainland

In Athens, MSF conducted 708 medical consultations at Eleonas transit centre, which houses people who want to apply for asylum in Greece. Those identified as victims of torture received specialized care at the Kypseli rehabilitation center, in collaboration with Babel and the Greek Council for Refugees.

In Idomeni transit camp, close to the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), MSF ran a mobile medical clinic offering basic healthcare and mental health support, and donated relief items such as blankets and washing kits. Over 13,000 consultations were carried out between April and December. MSF built shelters, showers and latrines for more than 1,500 people at Idomeni camp and maintained the electricity grid and sanitation services. Between June and December, MSF mental health teams also provided individual and group sessions to over 14,000 people. When the camp was closed, refugees and migrants travelling to the FYROM border had no option but to spend hours waiting at Polykastro petrol station less than 12 miles from the camp. MSF organised shelter, offered medical services and distributed food and water at congregation points on the road towards the border area.


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 2015, MSF had 12 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

Related News & Publications