Since the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, thousands of people on the move have remained trapped for an indeterminate period of time in five hotspots in the five Aegean Islands ─ Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros ─ and forced to live in inhumane and degrading conditions while they wait for a decision on their asylum claims. In 2019, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams conducted almost 46,600 outpatient consultations across Greece.
During the second half of 2019, the humanitarian situation in the five reception centres quickly deteriorated. At the same time, the new Greek government approved a new, stricter law on international protection, which reduced the already limited ability of asylum seekers to obtain healthcare. The new law also means that minors can now be detained, and post-traumatic stress disorder no longer qualifies as a vulnerability. As a result, even extremely vulnerable people have to spend long periods living in precarious conditions, which exacerbates their medical and mental health problems.
On Lesbos, we continued to run a paediatric clinic outside Moria camp offering general healthcare and mental health support to minors, and sexual and reproductive health services to pregnant women. In Mytilene town, we treated victims of torture and sexual violence, as well as people with severe mental health problems caused by trauma in their countries of origin, on their journeys to Greece, or by the stress and insecurity of their situation in Moria.
In response to the massive increase in arrivals on Samos, we scaled up our activities. We installed a water and sanitation system for the people who live around the official reception centre, providing them with clean drinking water and toilets. This is the first step in an intervention that will also involve the construction of showers, to prevent health problems associated with water shortage and poor hygiene. Near the camp, we run a day centre offering mental health support and sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Our services on Chios include general healthcare, sexual and reproductive healthcare, mental health support, social care and travel medicine for people at Vial camp, as well as cultural mediation services at the local hospital.
We run two clinics in Athens to respond to the specific needs of people on the move. The first, a day centre, provides sexual and reproductive healthcare, mental health support, treatment for chronic and complex diseases, social and legal assistance, as well as travel medicine for people planning to move on from Greece. The second offers comprehensive care to victims of torture and other forms of violence and is managed in collaboration with two other organisations, the Day Centre Babel and the Greek Council for Refugees. It implements a multidisciplinary approach, comprising medical and mental healthcare, physiotherapy, and social and legal assistance.