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Migration – Abandoned to their fate

14 September 2015

Over 300,000 people have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year with most of them already landed in Greece. On 26 August 2015 one of MSF’s search and rescue ships, the Bourbon Argos had 800 rescued people on board. The search and rescue ship rescued people in two separate operations in just one day, the people on board came from Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Syria. Even when they finally reach Europe, the ordeal is by no means over for these people migrating to flee hardship, war and persecution.

In just a little over three months, the MSF teams have rescued 11, 482 people mainly off the Libya coast. 200,000 of the 300,000 people who have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year have landed in Greece. European regulations stipulate migrants must be registered in the first country in the Union they enter. But there is no adequate reception system in Greece to deal with such large numbers of migrants and refugees. There are numerous refugees on the island of Kos as there are no reception facilities.

They live out in the open with no protection from the scorching sun. Some are directed by officials to a stadium where there’s no drinking water and sanitation. MSF teams distribute basic necessities and provide medical consultations in one of the places where the migrants have set up their own refuge. MSF medical team leader, Evangelia Motska says they are focused on mobile street clinics to help the migrants.

“Mostly, what we see is respiratory tract infections, traumatology while those people are sleeping in the streets due to the travelling conditions; but also skin diseases and common cold mostly to babies because they are more sensitive to weather conditions and sleeping outside” explained Motska.

There’s nothing for them here, so many migrants choose to continue their way across Europe. From Greece they have to pass through Macedonia. On 20 and 21 August, Macedonian troops fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of refugees trying to cross over the Greek border. An MSF medical team treated 110 casualties in just two days. The Macedonian authorities finally allowed the migrants through, enabling the refugees to continue with their journey until they face the next hurdle.