MSF is deeply concerned about the condition of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers after police operation in Patras makeshift camp

MSF calls on the authorities to ensure humane living conditions and medical assistance
© Michela Taeggi

Athens – Following the police operation in the Patras’ makeshift camp today and the subsequent fire that broke out, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expresses concern about the medical and humanitarian condition of the migrants and asylum seekers that were left homeless, as well as those that were arrested and urges authorities to ensure humane living conditions and the provision of medical assistance to this population.

MSF has been working inside the migrants’ makeshift camp since May 2008 providing primary health care and psychosocial support to the people living there.

“Many of the people that are left without shelter today, and the ones that were arrested, have been our patients for a long period of time,” said Micky Van Gerven, MSF Head of Mission of the project for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Greece. "We are deeply concerned about their condition and request guarantees from the authorities that they will be treated with dignity and receive medical and mental health support if needed."

“Early in the morning we were informed about the police operation and came immediately to the camp,” said Christos Papaioannou, the MSF Field Coordinator in Patras. "The bulldozers had just arrived and started demolishing the makeshift constructions. After a while, the fire broke out. Several people that were without official documents have been arrested, while many others left the camp by themselves. We don’t know yet where they are and what has happened to them. Most of them have been forced to leave their country because of conflict or extreme poverty and are now faced with an uncertain future and possible detention for an unclear period of time. This may have a negative impact on their medical and mental health condition.”

MSF calls on the authorities to assume full responsibility for the provision of medical assistance and psychosocial support to these people, ensure humane living conditions for the detainees and pay special attention to vulnerable groups, such as minors, patients with chronic diseases and people with special medical needs.

The majority of the people who were living in the camp come from Afghanistan and have fled from conflict and war. Among them is a number of minors, who are extremely vulnerable and in need of special protection. It is important that all migrants and asylum seekers are treated with dignity and that the authorities adhere to the relevant international and European conventions as well as the EU Council directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers.

Today’s police operation is part of a broader response targeting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Patras and other parts of the country. MSF will closely monitor the situation in Patras and continue to respond to the needs of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in the country.

MSF has been working in the migrants’ makeshift camp in Patras since May 2008 providing primary health care and psychosocial support and improving the living conditions of the population inside the camp. So far the organization has carried out more than 8,500 consultations, treating mostly people with respiratory infections and dermatological diseases while more than 350 cases were referred to the local hospitals.

Over this period, more than 400 refugees have received individual psychosocial support and more than 450 group sessions, including psycho education and health promotion sessions, have taken place. Finally, sleeping bags and hygiene kits have been distributed to the refugees and migrants living inside or outside the Patras makeshift camp.