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Asylum seekers and refugees continue to arrive in Greece in search of safety, only to find themselves stranded indefinitely in the country.

Since the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, migrants and refugees previously in transit through the Greek islands have been trapped for an indeterminate time in Reception and Identification Centres and Closed Controlled Access Centres. 

Our teams provides medical and mental healthcare to migrants in Athens and on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Samos. Our activities include sexual and reproductive healthcare, treating chronic diseases and providing care for survivors of sexual violence, psychological support and health promotion activities. On the islands of Lesvos and Samos we also provide emergency medical assistance to people in distress once they arrive by boat from Türkiye.

Our teams on Lesvos and Samos have reported overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions while being contained on the islands. We have made repeated calls on the European Union and the Greek authorities to completely change their approach to migration, which is causing avoidable harm to the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

Our activities in 2023 in Greece

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2023.

MSF in Greece in 2023 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assists migrants, refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Greece, many of whom have endured trauma in their home countries, on their journeys or at European borders.
Greece IAR map 2023

In 2023, restrictive European Union and Greek migration policies continued to take a severe toll on the physical and mental health of people seeking safety in Europe. Many of those arriving in Greece, whether by sea or land, were reportedly pushed back or placed in Closed Controlled Access Centres (CCACs) and later released into the country with little to no assistance.

Throughout 2023, our teams in Greece documented people’s reports of degrading treatment, including physical violence at sea or on arrival on the islands of Samos and Lesbos. The dire humanitarian situation was compounded as more and more people arriving were placed inside CCACs, and the majority were operating beyond their capacity. As a result, there was a lack of basic items such as bed covers, food, water, and hygiene supplies, and services, resulting in various avoidable health conditions, including respiratory and skin infections. The conditions also further impacted people’s mental health.

Our teams continued to provide timely and essential medical and psychological assistance to people on arrival, inside camps, and within the community. We run day centres and/or mobile clinics in Athens and on Lesbos and Samos, as well as providing emergency medical assistance for new arrivals. Our comprehensive response includes general healthcare, mental health support, and sexual and reproductive health services.

Our teams also treat patients with infectious and non-communicable diseases, and victims and survivors of sexual violence and torture. To ensure that people receive the necessary support, our multidisciplinary approach also comprises health promotion, intercultural mediation, and social and legal services.

During the year, MSF teams offered emergency medical and psychological first aid to thousands of people upon disembarkation on Lesbos and Samos, and organised hospital referrals for those needing further care. Finally, following massive floods in the region of Thessaly, our teams provided assistance to people affected.

Read more:


in 2023
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Refugees, IDPs and people on the move

Death, despair and destitution: The human costs of the EU’s migration policies

Report 20 Feb 2024
Emergency Medical Aid (EMA) for new arrivals in Samos, Greece

In plain sight: the human cost of migration policies and violent practices at Greek sea borders

Report 2 Nov 2023
Emergency Medical Aid in Samos

Asylum seekers in Greece report being beaten, strip-searched and sent back to sea

Press Release 2 Nov 2023
Rotation 32 - Rescue 1

EU migration policies are once again killing people as they search for safety

Press Release 30 Jun 2023
Three people found handcuffed, four injured on the Aegean island of Lesvos (MSF)

Pushbacks, detention and violence towards migrants on Lesbos

Press Release 25 May 2023
Rotation 20 Rescue 1
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EU leaders continue to push through deadly policies for migrants

Project Update 12 May 2023
Marvellous Nzenza with her mother Jacqueline and MSF social worker Relative Chitungo
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Overcoming taboos to ensure women's sexual health

Project Update 2 Mar 2023
MSF mobile clinic in the Closed Control Access Centre in Zervou, Samos.

Closed centres for refugees on Greek islands exacerbate psychological trauma

Project Update 30 Nov 2022
Three people found handcuffed, four injured on the Aegean island of Lesvos (MSF)

People found handcuffed and injured on the Greek island of Lesvos

Press Release 25 Oct 2022