People in urgent need of help in Greek refugee camps

Maria Santto
Maria Santto
Maria Santto
Maria Santto

More than half the patients at Red Cross clinic are children.

Support the work of the Red Cross
  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number: 5199
  • By donating online
  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number: 5199
  • By donating online
Support the work of the Red Cross
  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number: 5199
  • By donating online

- See more at: https://www.redcross.fi/news/20160311/humanitarian-crisis-brews-greece#s...

Support the work of the Red Cross

  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number: 5199
  • By donating online

- See more at: https://www.redcross.fi/news/20160311/humanitarian-crisis-brews-greece#s...

Support the work of the Red Cross
  • By texting the word ’SPR’ to 16499 (€15 per text message)
  • By donating to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00, reference number: 5199
  • By donating online

- See more at: https://www.redcross.fi/news/20160311/humanitarian-crisis-brews-greece#s...

Mothers with small children wait to see midwife Arja Savolainen. They remain calm and patient, even though they and their families are struggling in the face of almost impossible odds.

– I cannot imagine anything worse than being a refugee when you are pregnant or have a newborn or a very small child, says Savolainen.

– To have no home, no support from family or community, and not know what the future holds. Many of these women have been separated from their husband, their sisters, their mother.

The midwife receives her patients at the health clinic set up by the Finnish Red Cross and the German Red Cross in northern Greece at the beginning of March 2016.

A hundred patients a day

The clinic provides healthcare services for the refugee camps of Nea Kavala and Cherso, where almost 8,000 people are living. The clinic staff see more than a hundred patients a day.

– Respiratory infections, stomach ailments, skin problems and a few cases of insect pest infestation, says paediatrician Kari Vanamo, listing the most common ailments.

Most of the illnesses are caused by the physical conditions in the refugee camp and a prolonged period of wet weather. The nights are cold and the tents have only a thin tarpaulin floor. The few water supply points in the camp provide only a limited amount of cold water.

Psychological trauma

Nine-year-old Aya is a refugee from the Syrian civil war. She shares a tent with her mother and three brothers. Aya’s mother has brought her to Dr Vanamo’s clinic because the girl has stopped eating and drinking. For the past few days Aya has been suffering from severe abdominal pain.

There is nothing physically wrong with Aya but her mother explains that her husband, Aya’s father, was killed in a shelling a month ago. The doctor concludes that Aya’s refusal to eat and her other symptoms are probably due to the shock of losing her father.

Psychologist Valerie Heerema is called in. She takes Aya and her mother aside to speak with them in private. Aya is given paper and crayons. Used as a psychological support tool, drawing gives children an outlet for expressing their feelings.

If Aya is to recover, it is important that the family is able to share their grief, to talk about and to mourn the loss of the husband and father. Even though their future remains uncertain, Heerema believes that the family has a good chance of mentally surviving their ordeal because the mother is strong.

Copy:  Helena Laatio