Migrants face ongoing humanitarian crisis in Mytilini, Greece
25 July 2008
Athens - The international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) denounces the inadequate medical care and the unacceptable living conditions at the Migrants' Detention Centre in the island of Mytilini, Grece, two months after the launch of the MSF project which aims at providing medical, psychosocial and humanitarian aid. This situation is further exacerbated by the ineffectiveness of the authorities to ensure even the minimum improvement of infrastructures. In addition, MSF teams are facing difficulties in accessing the detention wards and the patients and this results in the deterioration of the provision of humanitarian assistance. In a Detention Center which - according to the authorities - cannot accommodate more than 400 people, there are currently 800 people. Provision of medical care to people in need, especially to vulnerable groups, is insufficient at the diagnosis process, the follow-up and the referral system. Seeing that the living conditions are getting worse, MSF calls on all involved authorities to take immediate action. "The inmates live in wards full of stagnant waters, with inadequate access to showers and latrines," said Yiorgos Karayiannis, MSF Head of Mission of the Greece project, describing the living conditions in the Detention Center in Mytilini. "There is only one functioning latrine per 100 people. "The wards have not been cleaned properly during the last two months. The inmates are rarely allowed to go out of the ward and the staff of the detention center is not in the position to respond to their needs. The rule is that inmates stay locked in the wards without having even basic access to facilities that could ensure their personal hygiene and protect them from communicable diseases." MSF provides primary healthcare and psychosocial support to the migrants. Up to now, the MSF team has provided medical care to 550 migrants in Mytilini. At the same time, MSF has started the distribution of cleaning material and the construction of latrines and showers. Our teams are facing obstacles in their access to the detention wards and to the patients for the provision of assistance to those in need. MSF asks for the immediate improvement of reception conditions of migrants in accordance with international conventions and for their access to the national healthcare system. The unhindered access of MSF teams to the migrants that are in need is essential for the provision of independent medical humanitarian assistance. Since June 2, MSF has run an emergency project in the Detention Center in Mytilini providing medical care and psychosocial support and trying to improve living conditions for the migrants. Since last week, a team of doctors and psychologists has been present every day at the landing place of migrants providing medical and humanitarian help. MSF teams also visits the Reception Center for unaccompanied minors in Ayassos. In Greece on a regular basis, and also works in the migrants' temporary settlement in the town of Patras to provide primary and mental health care and improve the living conditions and explore the possibility to intervene at the detention centers of Evros and Rhodopi region. MSF also runs similar programs for migrants in Asia, Europe and Africa.