Medecins Sans Frontieres’ new report criticized the Greek government for its treatment of migrants, calling it not only a “violation of national, European and international standards, but also” harmful to people’s health and dignity.
In its report, Invisible Suffering, the group, also called Doctors Without Borders, said:
“MSF’s experience demonstrates that detention is a cause of suffering and is directly linked to the majority of the health problems for which detained migrants require medical attention.”
The group detailed cases of scabies, dental problems, tuberculosis and respiratory ailments among the migrants. And, MSF said, those in detention included extremely vulnerable people, people with physical disabilities, unaccompanied minors and victims of torture.
Mental illness was also a problem: The group detailed suicide attempts as well as incidents of detainees sewing up their mouths as a form of protest.
“I did not think that such conditions were possible on European soil,” Marietta Provopoulou, who spent more than a decade working in Africa before returning to Athens to head MSF in Greece, told the Guardian. “The main complaint of migrants is that they are not being treated like human beings, that they are being subjected to a living hell. And they are right.”
MSF said more than 6,000 people were being held in migrant detention centers. Thousands more may be in police custody, the group said.
Many migrants from around the world use Greece as an entry point into Europe. Two years ago, the Greek government launched Operation Xenios Zeus, a new policy to crack down on migrants, and since then the number of illegal migrants and asylum seekers in detention has soared.
MSF urged Greece to improve conditions for migrants, and the European Union to play a bigger role in dealing with the situation of those coming into Europe.
Joanna Kakissis has reported for NPR about migrants stuck in Europe. Some of her stories are below:
We’ve also told you about the often-perilous journeys undertaken by migrants into Europe. You can read some of those here: