Due to its position as entry point into Europe, Greece has received a large number of refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and economic hardship in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the Middle-East, Asia and Africa since 2015. The long journey to Greece, in difficult, unsafe and unsanitary conditions has negative impact on the overall health of refugees.
The closure of the so-called Balkan route and the EU-Turkey agreement in March 2016 mean that Greece is no longer a transit country, but that around 60,000 refugees are forced to settle there for an unknown amount of time. Refugee arrival numbers have dropped, nevertheless in March 2017 alone over 1,500 new refugees arrived in Greece.
The living conditions for refugees in Greece remain difficult, the Greek health system overwhelmed in ensuring their health care needs are met, and the uncertain future of the refugees results in issues with trauma, stress, anxiety, frustration and violence.
Number of Refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean sea in 2015
WAHA has been supporting the health of refugees and migrants in Greece since 2015 and we have quickly grown our programs to become the health implementing partner for UNHCR in the Aegean islands, cover health needs of refugees in Athens and ensure medical care for refugees in Northern Greece.
We are collaborating with local, regional and national health authorities, NGOs and volunteer groups to improve conditions for the vulnerable populations.
SEE CURRENT MISSIONS
SEE PAST PROJECTS
Since early 2016, WAHA has been providing health care services in Northern Greece near the border with Macedonia and in camps and Alternative Accommodation Facilities (AAFs) near the city of Thessaloniki. WAHA works in collaboration with ASB with the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) to provide primary health care in refugee camps and other refugee accommodations and ensure a referral system to secondary health services.
We provide primary and pediatric care and provide special attention for patients with chronic diseases, pregnant women, children, and other patients needing specialized medical care.
In Athens, WAHA deploys medical staff to escort refugees from the islands to the hospitals and ensure suitable follow-up of the patients.
SEE PAST PROJECTS
As the UNHCR health implementing partner, with a continuous presence on the Aegean islands since September 2015, WAHA has been providing off and on-shore primary health care and continuous medical care in camps and Alternative Accommodation Facilities (AAFs) for refugees.
Mobile, semi-fixed and fixed clinic are deployed to best suit the refugees’ health care needs. During the peak of refugee arrivals, we also run an ambulance boat to respond to medical emergencies at sea. In view of the overstretched local health system, we have equally supported hospitals on the islands of Chios, Leros, Lesbos and Kos with essential equipment and vaccinations.
We are currently providing first aid, general primary healthcare including pediatric and gynecological care, as well as psychiatric and psychological support and health education to refugees in Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Kos and Rhodes and ensure referrals to specialized and or secondary care. Gender based violence and other trauma management are issues we are responding to.
Past activities have also included the islands of Kasterlorizo, Samos.
During the peak of refugees transiting through Greece, Athens became central point on the refugees’ route. In response we provided basic health care services and ensured referrals to upwards care in central refugee camps including the camps of Elliniko and Eleonas.