The region endured political and economic instability, a fragile security environment and an uncertain funding situation in 2022.
In Greece, refugee and migrant living situations vary highly, and this impacts individuals’ ability to access services. Most refugee camps are located in rural areas, far from urban centers where work opportunities may exist. In contrast, refugees and migrants living in urban centers face difficulties in finding safe accommodations, and across the board, accessing adequate health and mental health services remains a challenge.
Legal status also plays a major role in individuals’ ability to access the limited services provided by Greek authorities. While individuals who have legal status (refugee or asylee status) in theory have basic access to health services, undocumented migrants are precluded from these programs and in practice, even those with legal status have often been prevented from accessing these services.
In spite of this significant need, services for refugee and asylum seekers in Greece, particularly in health and protection, remain chronically underfunded. UNHCR reports an 80% funding gap as of September 2022. As many donors have shifted to other emergencies, organizations supporting refugees and migrants are increasingly challenged to find support for critical programming.
Utilizing financial support from Give to the World in 2023, SAMS was able to continue providing pediatric services four days per week in two Long Term Accommodation Centers (Refugee camps of Malakasa 1.0 and Ritsona) and three urban clinics in the Athens Center (Seeds of Humanity, Global Brigades, Victoria Community Center). In total from January through May 2023, SAMS provided medical services for 728 children (313 F / 451 M). The majority of children originated from Syria (25.8 %), followed by Afghanistan (24 %) and Congo (19.2 %). Pediatric services provided include consultations and related treatment, immunizations, medications, referrals to collaborating clinics and public hospitals for cases requiring advanced care, and documentation of physical examination through completion of “Student Health Card – ADYM” that is required for enrolling in Greek schools. During the reporting period, SAMS pediatrician noted that the most common conditions treated were upper respiratory tract infection, followed by flu and gastritis. As part of SAMS’ holistic care for refugee and migrant children, SAMS also conducts period health education and awareness trainings within the Long-Term Accommodation Centers.
Topics vary by field site based on requests of organizations, SAMS needs assessments, and from community meetings that allow beneficiaries to share their concerns and priorities. These sessions are preventative in nature and intended to empower children’s caregivers with information to maintain their child’s health and how to identify concerns that may require seeking medical care. For example, SAMS Pediatric team assessed the need for oral hygiene trainings for children, and upon informing the beneficiaries, oral hygiene training were conducted in small groups or per family visiting the clinic, on how the children should take care of their teeth, the correct way of brushing and how often, including a demonstration of brushing on the spot. Approximately 250 beneficiaries and caregivers benefited from these training sessions.
Additionally, GTTW supported SAMS earthquake relief efforts following the February 2023 earthquakes on the Syria-Turkey border by providing critical medicines and supplies to two maternity hospitals in Idlib, Syria, treating displaced Syrians.
Following last February’s earthquake, numerous pregnant women’s lives were at risk because of further strain on northern Syria’s hospital system. SAMS treated numerous women with pregnancy complications, including Mrs. A.R. at the Qah Maternity hospital in northern Syria with consumables provided by Give to the World after reporting severe abdominal pain and bleeding. SAMS conducted an ultrasound and determined she had an ectopic pregnancy, and determined her torn fallopian tube needed to be removed. SAMS was able to safely stop the bleeding and she was able to be discharged 24 hours later.