Letter to the Special Rapporteur: consider a country visit to Greece

July 17, 2019


In the past few weeks, IFHHRO Secretary Adriaan van Es worked as a volunteer doctor in the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, where thousands of stranded refugees are living in very difficult circumstances. Appalled by the situation he encountered in the camp, he wrote a letter today to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Puras, inviting him to schedule a country visit to Greece, including the camps. The full-text letter can be found below.

16 July 2019

Dear Professor Puras,

Through this message I would like to share with you some of my experiences during my recent volunteer medical relief work for refugees in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island Lesbos.

My first visit to the Moria camp was very confrontational: built for 3,300 persons, it housed over the double, and in previous months it has housed over 10,000 persons. In my consultation hours I saw many severely traumatized patients, women who were violated many times, in the country of origin, during the flight, and in the country of arrival, and many sick people in need of medical care.

In my assessment, all international and European human rights conventions are grossly violated on a daily basis. I’m sure you are familiar with the above mentioned issues and observations.

Given your position as UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, and remembering your excellent reports and statements, notably your report on the Right to mental health of people on the move (2018), are eminent arguments for a call on you to consider a country visit to Greece including the refugee camps.

In case such a visit would become reality, I am convinced that your findings will include gross violations of the Right to Health, and other rights, and recommendations not only to the Greek authorities, but also to European governments and agencies that are grossly and fundamentally ignoring their responsibility vis a vis the refugee situation in border countries in Europe.

In case you consider such a visit, we are willing to support and help where possible in preparing and pursuing such a country visit.

Kind regards,

Adriaan van Es, MD, secr. IFHHRO