Learn more about how we are responding to the coronavirus pandemic in Greece.
More than 50,000 migrants and refugees from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq arrived in Greece in 2018.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide medical and mental health care to migrants on the Greek islands and the mainland. Between January and December 2018, our teams conducted around 26,500 outpatient consultations across Greece and vaccinated around 4,500 children against the most common childhood diseases.
Since the so-called EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, migrants and refugees who were in transit through the Greek islands have been trapped waiting for their status to be determined. Consequently, they spend long periods in inadequate reception centers, with poor access to health care and the fear of being sent back to Turkey, which exacerbates their medical and mental health problems. We continued to denounce this deal and its dramatic impact on the health of men, women, and children contained on the islands in 2018.
Since 2016, we have been running a clinic on Lesbos offering primary health care, sexual and reproductive health services and mental health support. In late 2017, we set up an additional clinic outside Moria reception center, providing the same services for children under 16, pregnant women, and victims of sexual violence. We also have a team in Mytilene town treating patients with severe mental health conditions caused by trauma and violence in their country of origin or on their journey to Greece. Many of our patients, including minors, reported the insecure and inhumane conditions in Moria itself as a major factor pushing them to absolute despair and to episodes of self-harm or suicidal ideations.
On Chios, we provide primary health care, sexual and reproductive health care, mental health support, and social care for refugees and migrants. We deploy intercultural mediators and social workers in the hospital on the island, and in April started running travel medicine services to guarantee health care continuity for patients in transit, including health advice, vaccinations, medication, and referrals to the MSF services in Athens.
Until April, we also provided mental health care, health promotion, and temporary shelter for people in the town of Vathy, on Samos Island, which hosts mostly women, children, and patients requiring urgent medical treatment on the mainland.
We run two clinics in Athens to respond to the specific needs of migrants and refugees. At our daycare center, teams provide sexual and reproductive health care, mental health support, social care, and treatment for chronic diseases. In September, we also started running a travel medicine clinic for patients moving on from the city.
In our second center, run in collaboration with Day Centre Babel and the Greek Council for Refugees, we offer comprehensive care to victims of torture, ill-treatment, and other forms of degrading treatment. The clinic’s multidisciplinary approach comprises medical and mental health care, physiotherapy, social assistance, and legal support.
In response to the huge increase in arrivals (more than 18,000 in 2018 compared to around 6,500 in 2017) and the absolute lack of health care provision by the Ministry of Health, in July we deployed a team to work in the reception and identification center in Fylakio, in Evros region, on the border with Turkey until the end of the year, providing general health care consultations, sexual and reproductive health, and travel medicine consultations.