June 22, 2016
The 20th June is a symbolic day dedicated to all refugees and in the context of an unprecedented
humanitarian crisis, it reminds us that the international humanitarian law and asylum law are
violated every day in Europe. Doctors of the World ‐ Médecins du Monde (MdM) is a French
humanitarian and public interest organization, which works in the field of international solidarity and
has been helping refugees for nearly 40 years. Today, MdM is alarmed by their situation of extreme
vulnerability in their countries of origin, the host countries and on the migration routes, especially in
Greece which is a country of transit for hundreds of thousands of them.
Since the agreement between the European Union and Turkey came into force, 50,000 refugees have
been blocked in Greece and survive in poor conditions. In the face of this crisis, all MdM European
network members have got into action and strengthened their healthcare teams.
MdM works today in 28 different places in Greece and intervenes directly in camps or through mobile
clinics. We provide hundreds of medical and psychological consultations every day.
In 2015, more than 30,000 consultations took place in Lesbos and Chios and 14,000 in Idomeni. We
attended in priority to the ever‐increasing number of the most vulnerable people, such as pregnant
women, children, injured people and people with a chronical condition.
In order to meet the basic needs of these persons, we also conducted a survey of these refugees, who
mainly come from Syria.
86% of respondents declared that they had been victims of violence in their country of origin and/or
during their migration. The youngest fled to avoid forced military recruitment; unprotected women
alone with their children try to join their family already settled in Europe.
In Turkey, which is a country of transit, some of them were forced to pay $500 to get into a refugee
camp. Among those who managed to find a job, the vast majority is paid 30% less than a Turkish
worker. We were also told about many acts of violence committed by the Turkish police.
All these traumatic experiences have dramatic consequences for these people. The mental and
physical health of the persons who managed to reach the European Union via Greece and survived
crossing the 10 kilometers between Greece and Turkey, is extremely poor. Only 14% of them declare
to be in good health while more than ¾ of the refugees received in our facilities say that they suffer
from psychological distress. Those who stay in Greece are confined to open‐air camps and have huge
In this context, we will continue to denounce the agreement between the EU and Turkey, which
violates the asylum law and the Geneva conventions. Today, refugees take more risks to reach the
Fortress Europe and the death toll is unacceptable. We reaffirm the pressing need to open safe and
legal routes for all these people, with the option to seek asylum in the country of their choice. The European Union must respect the fundamental rights of refugees and ensure specific protection for women and children—who now make up the majority of migrants/refugees.