Red Cross Ending of Health Services in Chios – Vial camp

30 August 2017
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The Red Cross has been providing services to the migrants and refugees in the Greek island of Chios, since the end of September 2015 following the massive influx of people on move from the Turkish shores to Greece. The Basic health services continued in Vial camp, when it was established in early March 2016. However, the provision of health services through the Basic Health Clinic of the Red Cross in Vial-Chios will be terminated on the 1st September 2017. The Ministry of Health will take over the activities.

Vial migrant and refugee camp in Chios was opened as a Reception and Identification Centre site in early 2016. Following the EU-Turkey statement signed in March 2016 between the European Union and Turkey, people arriving the Greek islands could no longer travel to the mainland of Greece and if their asylum application is rejected they can be sent back to Turkey. Due to the heavy-load of applications that the Greek Asylum Service has had to process, the number of people stuck on the islands is growing rapidly, causing a lot of distress to migrants and refugees.

The Greek authorities are responsible for the management and provision of  medical screening and health services on the islands according to the ‘Reception facilities for Greece – Financial planning 2017’ agreement made between the Greek government, DG Home and DG ECHO. This plan was shared with humanitarian organizations working in Greece in March 2017.

The Hellenic Red Cross was requested by the Greek government to temporarily fill in a gap in basic health care on the islands in mid-May in the ‘hotspots’ of Lesvos, Chios, Kos and Leros.  The departure of other organizations was due to the financial planning agreement between the Government and DG Home and DG ECHO as funding was no longer available for these activities. Consequently, international and local organizations working in Vial camp like Praksis and WAHA ended their services some months ago, too.

The Red Cross has started, an information campaign through our community volunteers and distribution of flyers in the resident’s languages of the site informing them that the Basic health care clinic of the Red Cross will be closing. In addition, they will be informed of services that the Red Cross will continue such as the Restoring Family Links (RFL) and that they can seek for further help through the Hellenic Red Cross “Hotline”.

The Red Cross provided humanitarian assistance to migrants in Chios offering primary health care services, food, clothes, hygiene items and other necessities. Red Cross operations in Greece are funded by the IFRC’s emergency appeal, which includes financial support from the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and other donors.

The Red Cross is seriously concerned about the overcrowding in camps on the islands but the issue is also more complex than camp conditions – it’s about an overburdened asylum system. A key indicator of this is that migrants are staying longer and longer to the islands. The Red Cross is now prioritizing long-term, sustainable solutions for migrants and refugees living in the mainland by prioritizing the provision of cash support and social inclusion and integration services like the Multifunctional centres in Athens and Thessaloniki that help integration processes.

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