Refugee children outside their tent in an olive grove next to the Moria camp on Lesbos island | Photo: EPA/Dimitris Tosidis
Refugee children outside their tent in an olive grove next to the Moria camp on Lesbos island | Photo: EPA/Dimitris Tosidis

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has accused Greece of deliberately depriving at least 140 children in the Moria camp on the island of Lesbos of adequate medical care for chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases.

The international humanitarian organization urged the Greek cabinet to "evacuate all severely ill children for treatment on the Greek mainland or in other member states of the European Union" -- to places where they can receive adequate treatment --in a statement published on January 23.

"Greece is deliberately depriving at least 140 children of adequate medical care for chronic, complex, and life-threatening diseases" in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) wrote. 

Sick migrant and refugee children

"We see many children suffering from medical conditions such as serious heart conditions, diabetes or asthma who are forced to live in tents in abysmal, unhygienic conditions, with no access to the specialized medical care and medication they need," Vittoria Zingariello, who is charge of the MSF nurses' team on Lesbos, said.

"MSF is in talks with Greek authorities to transfer children to the mainland for urgent medical care, but despite the fact that some cases were examined, nobody has left the island yet. The government's general unwillingness to find a fast, systematic solution for these children, including some babies, is not only outrageous but risks to determine irreparable damage to their health or even death," Zingariello said.  

No access to medical care for new migrants

In July 2019, the Greek government revoked access to the public healthcare for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants who arrived in the country, according to  MSF, which has left over 55,000 men, women and children who have since reached the Greek islands without access to medical care. 

Doctors in MSF's pediatric health center outside Moria camp "regularly see children suffering from chronic and complex illnesses, such as heart disease, epilepsy, and diabetes, including at least 140 current patients," the organization said. MSF added that these children "require specialized treatment, which the MSF health center is not equipped to provide" and that the local public hospital "also cannot care for this many patients, and some specialized services are not available." 

Evacuation from Lesbos

The organization called for the "immediate evacuation from Lesbos of all people suffering from chronic and complex conditions, prioritizing children by establishing a system of regular transfers, to appropriate accommodation near providers of specialized medical care." They also want "urgent and immediate provision of free, timely, and adequate health care for all asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, and undocumented people in Greece."
 

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