clandestina

Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘health’

Italy: revolt for life and dignity 2

Posted by clandestina on 13 January 2010

More texts on the situation in Southern Italy.

“We Are Not Animals!” Italy’s Racial Riots and Their Aftermath

MARIA RITA LATTO (January 11, 2010)

Rage and fear. This is what comes out of the images from Rosarno, a small town near the western coast of Calabria, where violent clashes broke out after two African immigrants were wounded by a pellet gun attack by white youths in a car.

“Those guys were firing at us as if it was a fairground,” one of the men told La Repubblica newspaper. “They were laughing, I was screaming, other cars were passing by but nobody stopped them.”

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Testimony from Pagani (and Athens after it)

Posted by clandestina on 11 November 2009

source: lesvos09.antira.info

“We really didn’t feel like refugees!”

Athens, 25th of October 2009 | Reflections on Lesvos two months after Noborder:

Hello, my name is Milad. I am 17 years old. I was for 23 days imprisoned in Pagani in Mitilini and first I want to define how was the situation inside this prison and how was the behaviour of police and doctors with us.

Some guys were sick for weeks, they were calling for a doctor, but nobody was ready to listen to our voices. There was no treatment for sick persons and the drinking water had a bad smell. If we asked for a doctor, for clean water or anything, mostly nobody was even listening.

They also did not have a good behaviour to the families with the small kids. One day I saw the kids had their ten minutes time to go out. They were playing football and one policeman was beating a small kid, he was about 8 years old, his mother was crying.
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Greece: They could not understand why they and their children were being detained

Posted by clandestina on 24 September 2009

source: http://www.reporterfreelance.info/2009/09/greece-%EF%BF%BDthey-could-not-understand-why-they-and-their-children-were-being-detained%EF%BF%BD/

Greece 2009 © MSF

In the detention facility for migrants in Lesvos, MSF arranges for detained children to see their fathers.

Ioanna Kotsioni works as the Deputy Head of Mission for the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project providing assistance to migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Greece since December 2008. She has visited the project in the detention center of Pagani in Lesvos, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea, and she shares with us her experience inside the detention center.

Between August 20 and 28, I visited the detention center of Pagani to support the MSF team that since July has been providing psychosocial support to the undocumented migrants inside the center. The situation I faced when I first arrived was shocking.

In the center, there were more than 900 people detained in extremely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The facility is actually an old warehouse that is not suitable to accommodate people. According to local authorities, its capacity is for up to 300 people, but when I visited I saw three times that many people—men, women, adolescents, and children—living in overcrowded cells, most of them sleeping on mattresses on the floor with no bed sheets. In each of the seven cells, including the cell with women and children, there were only two toilets and showers to be used by the 100 to 250 people detained there. People eat their meals inside the cell and are not regularly allowed in the yard.

To move around, you had to walk over dirty mattresses lying on the floor . . . most of the women were complaining that their children were sick and that they had not seen a doctor for days.

The situation was extremely tense in the detention center, as many people had been held for days without knowing when they would be released. Some of the unaccompanied minors had already been in detention for 50 days or more. The day I arrived, more than 100 unaccompanied minors were on the third day of a hunger strike, protesting over the living conditions in the center and demanding to be released. In total, more than 220 unaccompanied minors were kept in two cells. Fortunately, that hunger strike ended the following day, as some of them were released and transferred to the hospitality center for unaccompanied minors in Agiassos.

Families Divided

What was very alarming for MSF was that there were many women with small children inside the center. In one cell of about 200 square meters we found more than 200 women with children. Out of the 68 children, 36 where under the age of five. Among the women there were five pregnant women in the final months of pregnancy. Two of them gave birth in the local hospital in the second half of August. Conditions in that cell were extremely overcrowded. To move around, you had to walk over dirty mattresses lying on the floor. Because of the overcrowding and the poor sanitary conditions, most of the women were complaining that their children were sick and that they had not seen a doctor for days.

Greece 2009 © MSF

A group of migrants from Lesvos arrive in Athens.

Many of the women who talked to our psychologist and me were in a very bad psychological condition, especially those who had been detained in the center for a long period of time, often for over three weeks. They could not understand why they and their children were being detained there in such bad living conditions. They were in distress and had given up hope, as they were expecting every day to be released from the detention center. They were uncertain about their future and all of them were asking to be released. One Eritrean woman, held there for more than 45 days, threatened she would hurt herself if she was not released. Another Afghan woman told me that she was shocked when she arrived in Greece and was brought to this detention center, because she thought that she had finally reached Europe—the Europe that had taught the world about human rights. So she was asking me why she and her elder mother were locked in there.

Children greet their fathers through bars

Our team was faced with a general situation of distress. Priority was given to the most vulnerable groups: children, unaccompanied minors, and women. When we arrived, women had not been allowed out of their cell into the yard for a few days. One of the first things we did was arrange for the children to leave the cell, and we accompanied them to visit their fathers in the rooms at the front part of the building. That was a very touching moment for us to see the fathers hugging their small children through the bars of the cell, many of them crying. We also asked the police to allow the children to go out in the yard, where we organized some group activities, so that children could make drawings and play. The psychologist was also able to conduct some individual sessions with patients, who needed special attention.

He was worried that his wife and his newborn baby would be brought back to the detention center. He was also afraid that he and his family would die in there.

One father kept asking us about his wife and his newborn child that had been born a few days ago in the local hospital. His wife and the baby were still in the hospital and he was not allowed to visit them there. He was worried that his wife and his newborn baby would be brought back to the detention center. He was also afraid that he and his family would die in there.

It became apparent that the situation in the detention center was dangerous and that an immediate solution had to be found so that the 200 unaccompanied minors and 200 women with children would be moved to another facility. In an urgent meeting with local authorities, the UNHCR, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the center, we tried to emphasize the humanitarian needs of women and young children and to pressure local authorities to find a shelter for them in another facility with better living conditions, where children would not be locked up in cells.

A better solution needed

Local authorities came up with a temporary measure to host unaccompanied minors, women, and children in an open holiday camp site in Lesvos. There, women and children could wait for their fathers to be released. Indeed over the next four days many women, children, and unaccompanied minors were transferred from Pagani to the camp site, where living conditions were much better. However, they could stay there for only a few days, until they could obtain a boat ticket to Athens. Leaving for Athens, they held in their hands their release note, which stated that their refoulement—the return of a refugee to their home country—was not possible. They were asked to leave Greece by their own means in the next 30 days.

Two days later, a boat with approximately 300 people, mostly families and unaccompanied minors who had been released from Pagani, arrived in the port of Piraeus in Athens. Among them were two Palestinian families with small children, the mothers of whom were in their eighth month of pregnancy. There was also an Afghan family with a newborn child and two more young children. The aunt of the newborn told me they decided to name the baby Daria, which means “sea”, and kept telling me that she is a Greek baby now, as she was born in Greece.

These families and others, in total 40 people, were stranded at the port having nowhere to go and looking hopeless. After a couple of hours, the municipality of Piraeus took the initiative to host them temporarily in a shelter. While welcomed, this is however an ad hoc temporary solution. Indeed for all these undocumented migrants there is no provision for shelter, food, and—very importantly—access to health care.

Their condition remains extremely critical in a country like Greece that does not ensure a minimum of access to health care for migrant families with young children, unaccompanied minors, and people with health problems, and does not cover their enormous humanitarian needs. MSF is extremely worried about the fate of all these vulnerable people who face a future of destitution and uncertainty.

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Médecins Sans Frontières on the destruction of Patras settlement.

Posted by clandestina on 18 July 2009

source: msf website

Patras, Greece: “All these people have lost their homes and safety overnight”

JULY 17, 2009

© MSF

Micky van Gerven, Head of Mission

A makeshift migrants’ camp in Patras, Greece, was demolished on July 12 during a police operation that ended in fire. Micky van Gerven, Head of Mission for the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project for migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees in Greece, talks about the situation in the city and expresses MSF’s concern over the medical and mental health conditions of the people who lost all their belongings and were left homeless.

Five days after the demolition of the camp what is the situation of migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees in Patras?

The demolition of the camp has left all the people who were previously living there homeless. Most of them have lost everything, all their belongings, during the clearing of the camp or the fire. Asylum-seekers—those who are registered and have papers—have been offered shelter at a hotel, but it is unclear how long they will be able to stay there. Unaccompanied minors—children under the age of 18 without their parents—have been offered to be brought to a reception center. Some of these children are only 13 or 14 years old and they are afraid to accept this offer, because they think they will be sent to jail.

All undocumented migrants either have been arrested or have fled into Patras, or are somewhere in hiding. The people who are now in the streets do not have access to hygiene and cooking facilities; they have no water or food. All of these people have lost their home and their relative safety overnight. For every human being, this is a traumatic experience.

How is MSF responding to their needs?

The team in Patras is following their patients where have gone. They are giving medical and psychosocial assistance to those who have gathered in different parts of the city and are monitoring the health situation of other groups. Over the last three days, the team has distributed hygiene material, sleeping bags, and food to those who have nothing left.

Do you have any information about the undocumented migrants who were arrested? Where were they taken?

As far as we know, the people who were arrested were taken to police stations in and around Patras, where they are kept with other undocumented migrants who have been arrested by the police before the demolition of the camp. We have witnessed undocumented migrants being kept in police stations for up to 20 days. The team has managed to visit one of these police stations and has seen that the police cells are not suitable; many people are cramped in one cell, having to sleep on very dirty floors, as there are no mattresses. They also lack direct access to showers and toilets. We are concerned that many of these people have medical and mental health needs that are not addressed and we have even seen people in custody who were injured during their arrest.

When they still lived in the camp, many of these people were our patients and we are concerned about their mental and physical health. Many of them come from war-torn countries; many have made a difficult journey under harsh circumstances, so they are in need of support and care and they need a roof over their heads.

What about the minors?

The minors need special attention. They went through similar hardships, but are obviously more vulnerable. We know that the Ministry of Health is in principle taking care of them by providing care and accommodation for them in special centers, but we also know that these centers are already overcrowded and that many of the minors are being held in detention centers or end up in the streets without any protection.

Related:

MSF Calls For Humane Treatment, Medical Assistance to Migrants Displaced in Greece

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More about the Court of Appeals building in Athens…

Posted by clandestina on 9 May 2009

These are some developments on the issue of the Athens Court Appeals Building from Kathimerini.

Today, there as well as elsewhere around Athens, both immigrants, and Greek antifascists were attacked by neonazi scum under the protection of police.  We will be reporting on this soon.

clandestinenglish

Activists lobby for migrant shelter

 by ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU / EPA

Illegal immigrants wait yesterday for medical advice from a member of the Doctors of the World aid organization which has set up a mobile unit outside the premises of the old Athens appeals court on Socratous Street in the city center where hundreds of migrants have been squatting for the past six months in squalid conditions. Doctors have said they will remain on site, offering the migrants vaccinations, medicines and advice, for as long as necessary.

Migrant support groups and leftist organizations yesterday held a press conference in the grounds of the old appeals court in central Athens, where hundreds of illegal immigrants have been squatting for the past six months, calling on authorities to transform the run-down building into “the first city shelter for migrants.”

“There are more than 550 people living here without basic amenities such as water and electricity,” said Thanassis Kourkoulas of a migrant support group called Deport Racism. According to Kourkoulas, local authorities are unwilling to foot the bill for transforming the Socratous Street site into a shelter for the migrants, most of whom are from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The authorities point to the fact that the building belongs to a private insurance firm that has reportedly asked police to evict the migrants from the premises. Recent reports suggest that a police raid might be in the works. Interior Ministry sources told Kathimerini earlier this week about plans to transfer the residents to a disused military facility in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. Authorities in Aspropyrgos have expressed their opposition to such an eventuality, as have those at Drepano, near Rio, where another disused military site has been touted as an alternative shelter for hundreds of migrants camping at the western port of Patras in a bid to board ferries to Italy.

In the case of the Socratous Street migrants, rights groups are pressing authorities not to “look elsewhere” for a solution but to overhaul the old building and provide them with “a decent place to live.” The groups are also lobbying for the government to grant legal status to all the migrants at the site. “Some of the migrants here have been in Greece for years,” Kourkoulas said.


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