No One Left Behind?: Migrant and Refugee Health in the COVID-19 Crisis in Greece

No One Left Behind?: Migrant and Refugee Health in the COVID-19 Crisis in Greece

Athanassios Vozikis (Laboratory of Health Economics and Management (LabHEM), University of Piraeus, Greece), Theodoros Fouskas (University of West Attica, Greece) and Symeon Sidiropoulos (Laboratory of Health Economics and Management (LabHEM), University of Piraeus, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5442-5.ch014
OnDemand PDF Download:
Available
$37.50
No Current Special Offers
TOTAL SAVINGS: $37.50

Abstract

Asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants, who are living in RICs, are faced with multiple challenges and vulnerabilities that must be taken into consideration when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic concerns over increasing cases recorded in the RICs in Greece. The impact of migration on public health is of particular concern to Greek migration policy, as migrants in the country have a completely different epidemiological profile and higher risks to public health due to the poor living conditions in their countries of origin and during their stay. They live mostly in overcrowded reception and identification centers and accommodation centers under deplorable conditions, lack of proper shelter, extremely unhygienic living conditions. The urgent decongestion of the overcrowded RICs and accommodation centers is required to avoid the risk of rapid spread of the infection.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

The first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Greece on February 26th 2020 (National Public Health Organization, 2020e). As subsequent cases in late February and early March were confirmed. Between March 10-18 educational institutions of all levels nationwide and stores suspended the operation of educational institutions of all levels nationwide, as well as, movie theaters, gyms and courtrooms, shopping malls, cafés, restaurants, bars, beauty parlors, museums and archaeological sites, organized beaches and ski resorts and all stores nationwide. On March 23rd, with 695 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, a nation-wide restriction of movement is enforced, whereby citizens can leave their house only for specific reasons and with a special permit (National Public Health Organization, 2020e). In the Reception and Identification Centers (RICs), medical doctors, members of NGOs and asylum seekers, refugees and migrants considered that measures against the spread of the coronavirus are lacking as they live in overcrowded spaces with little access to proper healthcare services. The data presented concern cases from the epidemiological surveillance of the disease by the new coronavirus (COVID-19), based on the data that have been declared to National Public Health Organization and recorded until May 6, 2020 show the following (see Figure 1): The new confirmed laboratory cases of the disease are 21. The total number of cases is 26,631 (daily change + 0.8%), of which 55,5% are men. The new deaths of COVID-19 patients are 1, while a total of 147 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began. The average age of patients who have died is 75 years. The number of patients hospitalized intubated are 36 (77,8% men) (National Public Health Organization, 2020f).

Figure 1.

Laboratory number of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases in Greece by May 6, 2020

978-1-7998-5442-5.ch014.f01
Source: National Public Health Organization, 2020f.

In the Reception and Identification Centers (RICs), medical doctors, members of NGOs and asylum seekers, refugees and migrants considered that measures against the spread of the coronavirus are lacking as they live in overcrowded spaces with little access to proper healthcare services. Greece – due to its geographical position between three continents and because of its extensive coastline comprising a significant part of the external sea borders and part of the land borders of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen area – is the main entry and transit point to the European territory for incoming third-country nationals (TCNs), i.e. asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, who cross the Greek-Turkish land borders in the area of Evros and the sea borders in the Aegean Sea. Since 2015, Greece has faced the largest asylum seeker, refugee and migrant flows of recent years, as a dramatic increase was noted. The country has been the main entry point in Europe for almost a million refugees and migrants seeking safety for themselves and their families. The unprecedented asylum seeker, refugee and migrant flows of 2015 coupled with the movement of the migratory route that comes to Greece from Turkey has tested Greece’s already overburdened asylum system and has highlighted the weaknesses and difficulties of handling the dramatic rise of migrants and refugees and meeting their humanitarian needs (Fouskas, 2017, 2019).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Accommodation Centre: A place used for the collective housing of applicants for international protection.

Access to Healthcare: Healthcare entitlements enjoyed by third-country nationals (migrants, applicants for international protection and refugees) in EU Member States and in their countries of origin.

Migrant: In the global context, a person who is outside the territory of the State of which they are nationals or citizens and who has resided in a foreign country for more than one year irrespective of the causes, voluntary or involuntary, and the means, regular or irregular, used to migrate.

Third-Country National: Any person who is not a citizen of the European Union within the meaning of Art. 20(1) of TFEU and who is not a person enjoying the European Union right to free movement, as defined in Art. 2(5) of the Regulation (EU) 2016/399 (Schengen Borders Code).

Refugee: In the global context, either a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, is outside the country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country, or a stateless person, who, being outside of the country of former habitual residence for the same reasons as mentioned before, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it. In the EU context, either a third-country national who, owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, is outside the country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country, or a stateless person, who, being outside of the country of former habitual residence for the same reasons as mentioned above, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it, and to whom Art. 12 (Exclusion) of Directive 2011/95/EU (Recast Qualification Directive) does not apply.

Asylum Seeker: In the global context, a person who seeks protection from persecution or serious harm in a country other than their own and awaits a decision on the application for refugee status under relevant international and national instruments. In the EU context, a third-country national or stateless person who has made an application for protection under the Geneva Refugee Convention and Protocol in respect of which a final decision has not yet been taken.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset