3 December 2014
Thousands of refugees arriving on the shores of Greece’s Aegean islands are being welcomed with a dysfunctional reception system and inhumane living conditions, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Greece and the European Union (EU) must urgently improve living conditions for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, and offer them adequate medical assistance and protection.
According to the authorities, this year more than 14,000 people – of whom more than 90 percent are fleeing war-torn Syria – have made the perilous journey in small boats across the Aegean sea from Turkey to the Dodecanese islands, in search of protection. With too few suitable facilities to host them, many refugees find themselves forced for days at a time to sleep outside in the cold and rain or in badly overcrowded police station cells while waiting to be transferred to the Greek mainland.
“Over the past four months, we have seen no will to improve the reception system,” says Kostas Georgakas, MSF field coordinator . “No medical screening is provided for the arrivals and, more importantly, vulnerable people are neglected. Recently a group of doctors from the Ministry of Health was sent to screen refugees for Ebola – despite the fact that most refugees come from Syria and Afghanistan, not from West Africa. But those suffering cardiovascular problems or diabetes receive nothing.”