Inadequate Care: The Plight of Medical Aid for Refugees in Greece’s Camps
Greece has long been a major point of entry for refugees seeking asylum in Europe. However, the response of the Greek government and the European Union has been woefully inadequate. Instead of providing support and assistance, refugees in Greece are often met with hostility and mistreatment.
Refugees in Greece are in a state of waiting or suspension, as they may be waiting for their asylum applications to be processed or for a resolution to their situation. Additionally, it can imply that they are in a state of neither fully belonging nor being fully excluded from society, which can add to the challenges they face. They are living in temporary housing or shelters like camps, with limited access to resources and opportunities, and uncertain about their future.
The root cause of this crisis can be traced back to the global capitalist system, which has created the conditions of poverty, inequality, and war that drive people to flee their homes in search of safety and security. The rich countries of the West, including Greece itself, have benefitted from this system for centuries, extracting wealth and resources from the Global South and leaving behind a legacy of exploitation and oppression.
It is important not to overlook the EU’s border policies. The governments of Northern Europe, through their exploitation of poverty and corruption in Southern countries and their support of right-wing parties and policies, have damaged the reputation of these countries. Instead of aid and support, they have perpetuated harm for the so-called immigration frontline countries.
One of the major issues facing refugees in Greece is the lack of adequate housing. Many are forced to live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in refugee camps, often without access to basic necessities like clean water and medical care. These conditions have been described as “inhuman” and “degrading” by human rights organizations, yet they continue to implementing by the Greek government.
Another major problem facing refugees in Greece is the lack of access to legal support and information. Many refugees are not aware of their rights and are often denied access to legal assistance. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and makes it difficult for them to navigate the complex and often hostile asylum process.
Often in Samos and Lesbos, persons have their first interview right after the quarantine “with too little time to recuperate from their journey, no chance of understanding the procedure for the asylum request and the need to request legal assistance or to prepare for the interview”, MSF argued.
This medical aid organization announced on November 2022 that “some of the center residents who survived torture were not identified by authorities as having suffered this abuse and were therefore not given the information on their right to receive adequate medical and psycho-social support. MSF also claimed that torture survivors were often going into asylum proceedings without legal assistance, leading to their requests being rejected.”
Asylum seekers and refugees often face barriers to accessing medical care due to expired documents. The waiting period for renewal of documents are also to long. This results in their insurance codes being deactivated and clinics and hospitals refusing to provide services. Although emergency care is still accessible, many families have reported long wait times for appointments for routine tests and procedures.
Amnesty International has called on the Greek authorities to improve the conditions in refugee camps, to provide adequate access to healthcare and other services, and to ensure that refugees and migrants are treated with dignity and respect. They have also called for an end to the use of detention as a means of deterring migration, and for the EU to provide more support to countries on the front line of the refugee crisis.
Access to healthcare is a major challenge for many refugees and asylum seekers. Many refugee camps are overcrowded and lack proper sanitation, which can lead to the spread of disease. Furthermore, many refugees have experienced trauma and violence, and may have mental health needs that are not being met.
There are several reasons for the deaths of people in Greek refugee camps. Some of the main reasons include overcrowding, poor living conditions, lack of access to healthcare and basic necessities, and inadequate support from aid organizations. Waris Ali and Some Tsiona Nzita are two resent examples of individuals who have died in the refugee camps due to lack of access to medical care. The reason for the death of both of them was the long delay in the arrival of the ambulance.
Solidarity with Migrants, an open assembly of activists who fight for the refugee rights, had an announcement on January 16 that “a Congolese migrant who had been seeking medical assistance since dawn, breathed his last at the Ritsona camp this morning. The ambulance reportedly took 3 hours to arrive.”
This assembly later report it that “The Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, and the administrator of the Serres camp, Dimitra Panagiotakis, along with other unidentified government officials, have stated on social media that the death of Tsiona Nzita is not the fault of the immigration concentration camp system.”
Despite all the criticism, Greek authorities generally lie about the refugee situation. There have been claims and reports of Greek authorities not providing accurate information about the refugee situation in the country. These claims suggest that the authorities may be underreporting the number of refugees, downplaying the challenges they face, and not providing adequate resources to support them.
In particular, Amnesty International has criticized the Greek authorities for not providing a fair and efficient asylum process for those seeking refuge in the country. They have also reported on the use of excessive force by the police against refugees and migrants, and the use of detention as a means of deterring migration.
Amnesty International has also criticized the EU for not providing enough support to Greece and other countries on the front line of the refugee crisis. They have called on the EU to provide more funding and resources to help improve the conditions in the refugee camps and to provide a clear path for refugees to seek asylum and start new lives in Europe.
Furthermore, the Greek government has been criticized for its handling of migrants and refugees, who are often treated as criminals rather than as people in need of protection. This has led to a state of fear and mistrust among refugees, making it difficult for them to access the services and support they need.
Now the human rights arms of the United Nations and the European Union have called on Greece to stop criminalizing pro-refugee non-profit groups. Both the U.N. and E.U. say targeting humanitarian groups with prosecutions is having a chilling effect on the efforts to save asylum seekers at sea. Meanwhile, the police in Athens and Thessaloniki are attacking solidarity groups and prosecuting them.