Refugees living in ‘appalling conditions’ in Greece: Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF)

October 20, 2016 7:00 pm

A woman cleans outside her tent at the municipality-run Souda refugee camp on the island on Chios, , on September 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Doctors Without Borders has strongly criticized the European Union and Greece, in particular, for their inadequate efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the refugees living in “appalling conditions.”
“Greece in 2016: Vulnerable People Left Behind” is the name of a report published on Thursday by the Paris-based humanitarian aid organization, commonly known by its French name Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF).
In the report, the international aid group said refugees at camps in Greece are still living in “appalling conditions” with poor access to health care amid a lack of provisions to identify the most vulnerable.
Both the European Union and Greece have “failed to establish humane and dignified reception conditions” for the refugees, the agency said in the report.
It added that more than 60,000 refugees, who fled violence in Syria and Iraq, have been stranded in Greece following the EU-Turkey refugee deal and European border closures this year.
Most of these refugees live in substandard conditions in tents in about 50 refugee camps, according to the report.

This photo taken on October 11, 2016 shows the building site of a camp for refugees near Porte de la Chapelle in northern Paris, France. (Photo by AFP)

Around 14,000 of them are confined to islands in the eastern Aegean, where they are being processed for potential deportation to Turkey, the report says.
“The leaders of Greece and the EU keep telling us this is a success, but it isn’t. The reception system for refugees in Greece has failed,” said Loic Jaeger, country mission head for MSF.
“While encampment should be a short-term solution, due to the acute slowness of the system, we are currently looking at a time frame where people will be in camps for probably years,” he said.
“Deplorable conditions, with a lack of access to services in camps, is dangerous for our patients, particularly the most vulnerable” he added.
In the report, the aid agency warned of the mounting hardships awaiting the refugees during the cold season.
“With winter coming MSF has deep concerns that the shelter in the camps in which migrants are residing is inadequate for the season and will be unable to withstand the low temperatures, putting people at risk of hypothermia, respiratory illnesses and push them further into unacceptable living conditions,” the report says.

People walk past tents at the municipality-run Souda refugee camp in the island of Chios, Greece, on September 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Substandard conditions
Prior to the EU-Turkey refugee deal in March, the majority of the refugees who landed in Greece only stayed on the islands for a few days before continuing their journey onwards to wealthier EU states.
Since March 20, the population on the islands is more stationary. Most of the people who arrived after this date are currently stranded.
At the garbage-stinking refugee camp of Ritsona, 85 kilometers north of the Greek capital, Athens, children ambulate barefoot and families in tents use wooden pallets for flooring to stay above the mud and try to stay warm.
“It’s very bad. How can I explain: I mean very bad,” Syrian refugee Yousef Hanash said. “Can you imagine living in a tent with six persons and if you have a newborn baby how the situation will be?”
Greece’s government has repeatedly defended its record in dealing with the refugee crisis, noting that more than a million refugees traveled through the country since the beginning of 2015, stretching state resources already under pressure from years of recession.
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