© Alessandro Penso

Greece

More than 856,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea or land in Greece in 2015

Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Greece is a major entry point for refugees and migrants making the journey to Europe.

Map of MSF's activities in Greece, 2015Seven months after the signature of the EU/Turkey deal and despite the huge amount of funds pledged by the EU, more than 50,000 migrants and refugees still live in substandard conditions in Greece and lack proper access to health care. 

There are also around 15,000 people in the hotspots of Lesbos, Chios and Samos which have the capacity to host just 7,450.

Nearly 80 percent of the 950,000 plus people who have reached Europe by sea in 2015 arrived through Greece.

Prior to the current refugee crisis, six straight years of recession beginning in 2008 reduced the economy by about a quarter of its previous size and drove unemployment to record levels.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) first worked in Greece in 1991 providing healthcare for people otherwise excluded.

Today, our attention is focused towards Greece’s Dodecanese islands – the islands where many refugees first make land in desperate conditions – and on the border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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MSF's work in Greece: 2015

More than 856,000 refugees and migrants arrived by sea or land in Greece in 2015, making it the main entry point for people attempting to reach Europe.

Volunteers and civil society organisations mobilised to help new arrivals, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided healthcare. A third of the people landing on Greece’s shores were women and children. Approximately 91 per cent came from countries affected by war and violence – predominantly Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

Most disembarked on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. On Lesbos alone, as many as 6,000 people were arriving each day in October.





© Alex Yallop/MSF

Lesbos and Samos

In July, MSF opened clinics in Moria and Kara Tepe camps on Lesbos and set up a mobile clinic in the port, where thousands of people waited out in the open in sweltering heat to travel on to Athens. MSF improved water and sanitation facilities, provided waste management and installed chemical toilets and water points in Moria.

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Over 16,100 medical consultations were carried out and 3,000 people received mental health support.

An MSF team began to offer medical assistance to people landing on Samos in October. A mobile team welcomed them and transferred them to the registration office at the main port, where staff conducted medical consultations. The team also distributed relief items and an average of 540 meals a day to those living in the reception centre.

Dodecanese Islands

As there were no official reception systems on any of the Dodecanese Islands, MSF started to provide shelter, food and medical screening on Kos in March. In September, local authorities closed Captain Elias camp, an abandoned hotel used by asylum seekers as temporary shelter and where MSF provided basic emergency assistance. The migrants and refugees had few options but to sleep outdoors in Kos town until MSF set up a tent camp near an archaeological park.

In June MSF started operating a mobile medical clinic visiting Leros, Simi, Tilos and Kalymnos islands. MSF established a permanent presence on Leros in September, with teams working on shelter, water and sanitation and providing mental health support and basic healthcare. Across Kos and Leros, the team carried out over 14,000 medical consultations and provided mental health support to 6,000 people.

On the mainland

In Athens, MSF conducted 708 medical consultations at Eleonas transit centre, which houses people who want to apply for asylum in Greece. Those identified as victims of torture received specialised care at the Kypseli rehabilitation centre, in collaboration with Babel and the Greek Council for Refugees.

In Idomeni transit camp, close to the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), MSF ran a mobile medical clinic offering basic healthcare and mental health support, and donated relief items such as blankets and washing kits. Over 13,000 consultations were carried out between April and December. Between June and December, MSF mental health teams also provided individual and group sessions to over 14,000 people.

find out more in our international activity report

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