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MSF Greece Chios Camp

Greece

Who’s who?

Illustration made by swiss artist Carole Isler of the Chios refugee camp. Greece. March 2019. © Carole Isler/MSF
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The swiss artist Carole Isler was invited by MSF to travel to Greece to hear the stories of the asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants who crossed the Mediterranean seeking a better, safer life only to find themselves trapped in the country and unable to move forward.

    More than 50,000 migrants and refugees from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq arrived in Greece in 2018. MSF continued to provide medical and mental healthcare to migrants on the Greek islands and the mainland. In mainland Greece, thousands of migrants are forced to live in camps, temporary shelters set up by NGOs, occupied houses or on the streets. Furthermore, since the so-called EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who were in transit through the Greek islands have been trapped waiting for their status to be determined. Consequently, they spend long periods in inadequate reception centres, with poor access to healthcare and the fear of being sent back to Turkey, which exacerbates their medical and mental health problems.

    Artist Carole Isler visited some of our projects in Greece in Athens and the island of Chios in February 2019, where she sketched portraits of people and MSF staff. This project intends to use art to break down the invisible barriers between "us" (inhabitants of Europe) and "them" (people on the move). 

    What is your passion? What memory from the past year makes you smile? And what does it mean to be human?  Carole Isler explored these three questions with asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants, as well as with the MSF staff.

    Back in Switzerland, she transformed the sketches from the field into aquarelles for the international Comic Festival Fumetto in Lucerne. Visitors of the festival were asked to draw portraits as well, in a reality far away from crowded refugee camps, precarious hygiene conditions and insecurity. Despite the vastly different realities, the two sets of portraits are far more similar than they are different.

    They show men, women and children from all over the world – people with hopes, passions and humanity.
     

    The portraits

    Roya

    MSF Greece MigrantsWhat are you passionate about?
    When I was 11 I used to do a lot of drawing, and I was very good at that. I used to play sports as well. I used to do taekwondo, but that’s not allowed for women in Afghanistan. I would love to be a lawyer for women’s rights.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    Last year I met a man and fell in love. Now we live together, and I am very happy.

    What does it mean to be human?
    If you are able to offer help to someone, then you should help. I always try to help whoever needs help. I don’t understand jealousy. I never feel jealous of others. If I can help people, I just help.
     

    Nicolas

    MSF Greece What are you passionate about?
    Football, music, cinema.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    Barcelona’s football victory against Paris.

    What does it mean for you to be human?
    Having a loving heart, not doing things to others which you would not want happening to you, having empathy.
     

    Michel

    MSF Greece

    What are you passionate about?
    Reading, video games, knitting.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    In 2017, I graduated from medical school in Greece.

    What does it mean to be human?
    Just being alive, nothing else. I am a nihilist.


     

    Alya
     

    What are you passionate about?

    My passion is writing. I make notes every day and write poetry, mainly when I am sad. When I’m happy I cannot write. I also love listening to music.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    Last year was a difficult year. However, last year I got married to my (second) husband. We met in Syria, fled together and got married.

    What does it mean to be human?
    All humans have a good heart. What makes a good person is showing respect toward others. Having values and giving to others is the meaning of solidarity. Like MSF: they give help to people without expecting anything in return.

     

    Matthiaos

    MSF GreeceWhat are you passionate about?
    Cinema, music, dance, sports.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    My Christmas holiday with family.

    What does it mean to be human?
    Understanding and forgiveness.
     

    Parisa

    What are you passionate about?
    I am pretty busy with my children, who are one and two years old. As they are still small, I need to take care of them, especially as we are living here in the refugee camp.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    My most recent nice memory is of my mother. She raised my sister and me. We didn’t have a father. Our mother bought us clothes on Mother’s Day. We were so happy about our new clothes – especially since it was her day.

    What does it mean to be human?
    It is important for children to have a father and a mother. This means they will grow up surrounded by the love of a family and will understand what it means to be human.

     

    Yousef
     

    MSF GreeceWhat are you passionate about?
    Basketball. I would also like to work in the humanitarian field as much as possible. I like to lead people. I know both Middle Eastern and Western cultures and am getting better at what I do every day. Learning every day, self-improvement, self-development.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    On 12 September 2018, I was part of the biggest transfer from Samos to the mainland after being on the island for nine months. I shared this moment with 380 people (families, single men and women) and found freedom away from the island. Everybody was happy. It was the first time I had felt happy for a long time. There was a connection. People were singing and dancing. It was like New Year’s Eve. They were looking forward to the chance of having proper houses, access to healthcare and education.

    What does it mean to be human?
    Everyone should be treated like human beings. Basic needs should be met and people should be listened to. Everyone should be able to live in humane conditions. To be free. Freedom of movement, freedom of speech and basic rights, which do not exist in the camp, should apply to everyone. Everyone should be treated equally, regardless of nationality, skin colour or religion. Neutrality.
     

    Shirin

    MSF GreeceWhat are you passionate about?
    I used to work in a beauty salon in Afghanistan. I love sewing and making clothes. I didn’t have the opportunity to study so I want to study languages. I am trying to learn Greek, but I want to learn English.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    In 2018 two bad things happened to me. I lost my brother and my baby went blind. So I don’t have good memories of last year. I’m still very sad about my son and I am also homesick. I have asylum here, but I am not happy.

    What does it mean to be human?
    Being human means helping others. You do not find people like this in Afghanistan.
     

     

    Delvin

    MSF GreeceWhat are you passionate about?
    Seeing people smile at me makes me happy. I like people, as well as the Greek mentality.

    What memory from the past year makes you smile?
    My children make me smile. The birth of my son in 2019 made me happy. In 2018, all I could think about was coming to Europe. I came here and the people were very helpful. My children can go to school. I hadn’t planned to stay in Greece, but now I want to stay here.

    What does it mean to be human?
    I see the good in everyone. I try to stay away from bad people. I believe that everyone has good values.

    MSF in Greece

    MSF in Athens

    In mainland Greece, thousands of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants are forced to live in camps, temporary shelters set up by NGOs, squat houses or on the streets. Whilst health care is guaranteed for everyone regardless of their immigration status under Greek law, accessing care can be extremely difficult due to language and administration barriers. 

    MSF runs a clinic in Athens providing sexual and reproductive health care including antenatal and postnatal examinations, family planning and care for the survivors of sexual violence. The clinic also offers psychological counselling, psychiatric care and treatment for non-communicable diseases like epilepsy, diabetes and heart disease.


    MSF in Chios

    Around 12,000 men, women and children are living in the so-called hotspots on the Greek islands, where they await the outcome of their asylum applications in dreadful conditions. Asylum procedures are complex and applicants must wait up to three years for a decision.

    In Chios, MSF teams care for patients living in the Vial hotspot as well as in accommodation in the town centre. The team provides medical care as well as psychological care to thousands of patients. The majority of the illnesses treated can be linked to the miserable living conditions, the long waiting times for asylum procedures and to traumatic experience which either occurred whilst on the journey or pushed them to flee their homes in the first place.