The Central Square of Samos is decorated with Christmas lights, a Christmas tree and a nativity scene. A huge contrast with the refugee camp a few hundred meters uphill. It is winter, and our clinic is working to the limits of its capacity. The last few weeks we have seen an average of about 170 patients per day and work daily from seven in the morning until six in the evening. When the clinic opens, a crowd of people is waiting in front of the door to write their name on the list. Half an hour later, all spots for the day are taken, and we can only add children, pregnant women and emergencies.
The situation for migrants stuck on Samos remains deplorable. Camp capacity is exceeded 12 times, with currently more than 7600 people living in a camp built for 650. This overcrowding leads to a lack of basic hygiene facilities as toilets and showers, vermin, an unsafe atmosphere and regular fires. People spend their days waiting hours in line for every meal. The vast majority of children has no access to official schooling. Even though temperatures are falling and raining season has started, most people sleep in camping tents and are cold at night.
The situation translates into many health problems, such as the spread of respiratory infections, undernourishment in children and unmanaged chronic disease such as diabetes. Combined with the trauma’s people have experienced in their home countries and during their flight, with on top the longlasting uncertainty about the future, people suffer psychological distress.
Therefore, our clinic will be open at Christmas, just like every other day. To provide essential medication, wound dressing, health advice and a listening ear.