MSF reinforces activities in the temporary settlement of Patras, Greece, following yesterday's destructive fire

Athens/ Patras - : The fire that broke out yesterday in the migrants' settlement in the city of Patras from currently unknown causes has destroyed more than one third of the temporary structures. The facility used by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to offer medical care and psychological support, having conducted more than 6,000 consultations so far, was also destroyed from the fire.

"It is fortunate that the were no human casualties," said Giorgos Karagiannis, MSF head of mission of the project for undocumented migrants in Greece. "But a big part of the settlement has been completely destroyed and, as a result, migrants have no place to sleep at night or any shelter against the weather conditions."

Responding to this emergency situation, the MSF team in Patras distributed 450 sleeping bags last night with the support of the Red Cross, other local organizations and volunteer networks. Moreover, the MSF team of two doctors, one logistician and one psychologist that is working on a daily basis in the temporary settlement was reinforced with a second logistician, while an MSF tent was set up so that the team continues to offer medical and psychological support to the population.

In June 2008 the migrants managed to put out a similar fire in the temporary settlement, as the MSF team had placed fire extinguishers in central points and trained the population on how to use them. This time, it was impossible to stop the devastating fire.

“We are deeply concerned about the critical condition of this population. These people have come to this country from very far away, having fled in order to survive. Yesterday's devastating fire has made this population ever so vulnerable. The Greek society has demonstrated once again its solidarity to those who need our help. The authorities have to take the necessary actions that ensure the human dignity and acceptable living conditions for the migrants”, emphasized G. Karagiannis.

MSF is working in the migrants' temporary settlement in Patras since May 2008. So far the organization has carried out more than 6,000 consultations, treating mostly people with respiratory infections and dermatological diseases. Over this period, there have also been more than 200 have received psychosocial support while more than 400 cases were referred to the local hospitals.