Finnish Red Cross to found health clinic in Greece

13 March 2016
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The Finnish and German Red Cross have answered Greece’s call for help and will jointly establish a health care centre for the Mediterranean country’s expanding refugee population.

Aid workers say the clinic will serve inhabitants of the Cherso and Nea Kavala asylum seeker camps near the country’s northern border.

Greek authorities contacted the Red Cross offices in Finland and Germany and requested the assistance.

It is estimated that some 8,000 people are currently living in the two camps, and that over half of the occupants are women and children.

Refugee camps are miserable

Representatives of the Finnish Red Cross say the camp conditions are dismal.

“It has been raining for several days here and the second camp has been reduced to mud. Most of the tents don’t have a floor. Hygiene conditions are poor and the risk of epidemic is very high,” says Tiiina Saarikoski, a health care advisor currently in Greece with the Finnish Red Cross.

Saarikoski says the Finnish aid team will likely be primarily responsible for treating the children’s diseases that spread rapidly in camps. They will also monitor the status of pregnant women.

The clinic and all of its equipment will be transported to southern Europe by lorry, and is expected to arrive in Greece next week. The first Finnish aid workers will be flying to Greece as early as Sunday.

41,000 people without a place to go

Greece increased efforts on Saturday to move thousands of migrants near the border with Macedonia to sheltered camps. In the nearby northern border town of Idomeni, at least 12,000 people are stranded in filthy conditions at a muddy tent city, among them thousands of children.

Greek authorities handed out leaflets on Saturday informing people that the main route to northern Europe had been shut. The pamphlets urged them to move to buildings and hospitality centres across Greece that were established to facilitate the relocation.

“Greece will offer you accommodation, food and healthcare,” the leaflets read, written in Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun.

According to Reuters, 629 more people arrived on the Greek islands from Turkey in the last 24 hours, making the total number of migrants and refugees stuck in the country about 41,000.

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