Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers arrived in Greece in 2014, many on their way to northern Europe.
Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers continued to be detained with limited access to healthcare or basic services. Living conditions in detention centres remained extremely poor. Overcrowding, substandard hygiene, and inadequate heating, hot water and ventilation led to the outbreak and spread of respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases. In April, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report, Invisible Suffering, documenting the massive impact of detention on the physical and mental health of migrants and asylum seekers. Many of those detained have no or limited access to the outdoors. The report also highlighted the gaps in healthcare provision and the absence of medical assessments, as well as the detrimental effects of prolonged detention on the health of migrants and asylum seekers due to lack of necessary care or interruption of treatment.
In Evros region, MSF provided medical consultations and psychosocial support to people being held at detention centres in Komotini and Filakio, and in the police stations of Feres and Soufli. Nearly 600 relief kits were distributed to help people maintain a basic level of hygiene, health and dignity. In March, these activities were handed over to EKEPI.
In 2014, more than 42,000 people – almost 80 per cent of them from Syria – crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to the Dodecanese Islands. Many were forced to sleep outside or in overcrowded police cells while waiting to be transferred to the Greek mainland, as there were not enough suitable facilities to host them. Towards the end of the year, MSF launched two emergency interventions, providing medical care and distributing more than 2,000 kits containing sleeping bags and hygiene items such as soap.
In September, in collaboration with two Greek organisations, MSF opened a project in Athens offering medical rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, for asylum seekers and migrants who have been victims of torture.
No. staff in 2014: 10 | Expenditure: €0.5 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1991 | msf.org/greece
Ebmesam – We met 64-year-old Ebmesam from Syria the day after he arrived on the Greek island of Leros.
The journey from Turkey was hard. But compared to what I faced in Syria or Egypt, it was nothing. We were 28 people and the boat was too small. I believe that we only made it thanks to God – otherwise we would all have died. The smuggler abandoned us on a Greek island. We were found and arrested by people dressed in black. For two hours, we were bent over, almost lying on the ground, in the heavy rain. When you found me [the following morning], I was soaking wet. I was praying to God that I would be able to continue with my journey … In Leros, I had a really hard time in the police station … The cell was extremely small, and I suffer from chronic asthma. It was supposed to hold two people, but there were 12 of us inside.