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Epidemics threaten Syrian children’s lives in Greece refugee camps 

Image of refugees and migrants on September 19, 2016 [Intimenews/Manolis Lagoutaris/via REUTERS]
Image of refugees and migrants on 19 September, 2016 [Intimenews/Manolis Lagoutaris/via REUTERS]

Refugees, especially children, in in the Moria camp on the Medellie Greek island face the threat of diseases resulting from poor health and living conditions.

A number of representatives of civil organizations in the region told Anadolu that inadequate health services are due to overcrowding and are particularly threading to children and pregnant women in the refugee camp.

Moria camp is at twice its maximum capacity and suffers from a dearth of resources. In particular, there are problems regarding bathrooms’ hygiene, lack of sewage channels, lack of drinking water and environmental pollution.

Amanda Goodbali, Director of Mobile Medical Clinic, part of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told Anadolu, that the centre provides medical services to about 100 children a day. She stressed that the living conditions in the camp are cause for concern.

Goodbali explained, “many children visit the centre for gastrointestinal problems, and many of them suffer from diarrhea, as well as skin diseases such as scabies and lice because the camp is overcrowded with refugees.”

READ: Syrian army controls 65% of Yarmouk Refugee Camp, say Russians

She pointed out that, “in February the was a measles epidemic, this effected about 10 children. So we organized a vaccination campaign in cooperation with the Greek authorities.”

She said that it was virtually impossible to set up any quarantine areas in the camp and warned of possible further epidemics such as hepatitis. She stressed the poor living conditions in the camp for pregnant women as well, where they do not have any special facilities.

She added that “many women complain of sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical.” A statement issued by MSF said that the situation in the camp has reached a very critical stage, as the number of children who visit the centre has doubled for the last two months to reach 60 children per day.

Turkey has been one of the main country which has been welcoming Syrian refugees - Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

Turkey has been one of the main country which has been welcoming Syrian refugees –
Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

A 31-year-old Syrian refugee, Dilba Ibash, explained to Anadolu that she arrived at the camp about two months ago and expressed her concern about the health and security of her children due to the daily clashes in the camp. She said, “health services are very limited in the camp. Children cough all night and if we can get to a doctor, they just give them one dose of medicine.”

She pointed out that there was no possibility of providing additional food to refugees in the camp, where they had to share food with their children. Astrid Castelline, the UNHCR official for Medellie island, said that the camp’s main problem is that it receives twice its refugee capacity. She pointed out that the camp currently shelters about 5 thousand and 500 refugees, although the maximum capacity is only 3 thousand.

She pointed to the influx of refugees to the island by 4 times compared to last year. She explained that the camp is witnessing security problems due to overcrowding,and stressed the need to transfer a number of refugees to other areas. On the other hand, Castelline condemned the violence perpetrated by extremist groups on the island against refugees.

She pointed out that asylum applications take a long time, and said that “the EU-Turkey Refugee Agreement is partially implemented and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees does not oppose the readmission of refugees to Turkey.”

“The full implementation of the Convention will contribute to the refugees’ recognition that there is a possibility of their return, which will lead to a decline in their numbers,” she said. It should be noted that the wave of refugees reached its peak in 2015, when more than one million refugees arrived in Europe.

The EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement contributed to the reduction of immigration. It came into effect in March 2016, and the number of refugees has dropped to 57,000 over the past two years. The agreement also led to the reduction of cases of drowning in the Aegean Sea waters, where the number of migrants in 2017 was 30 thousand people, 54 of whom were killed.

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