The most vulnerable among the vulnerable people: an urgent call

About forty people are waiting for the approval of Spanish government to receive immediate medical care in the State

Osman was 7 years old when he arrived with his family from Afganistan at Idomeni. The already precarious conditions in the camp where even worst for the family with this child suffering cerebral palsy. Moreover, Osman and his family suffered up close the charge and tears gas used by Macedonian police against protesters at the borders, on Abril.

At that time, some members of the NGO Bomberos en Acción become aware about his case and moved immediately the family close to the Yellow Tent, one of the points arranged as amedical centre in Idomeni, in order to follow closely the health conditions of the minor.

Since the family had arrived at the camp, a few weeks before,  Osman had lost a lot of weight and his health was already very delicate. 

According to Javier Borrego, project coordinator of Bomberos en Acción at Idomeni, Osman had to be moved out of the camp before it was too late. For this reason, the organization started a legal and media campaign to make the Spanish government issue a visa to travel and being treated in Spain. A few weeks later, Osman and his family received the asylum visa and traveled to Valencia, where they live currently.

However, as Borrego said when Osman’s asylum was issued, in migrant camps in Greece there are still many people like him, but his case has been an inflection point. Since  then, many volunteers, especially autonomously, started to report situations of refugees needing urgent medical care.

According to Gemma Poca, one of this volunteers, they had  a double objective: from one side, it was necessary to document what was happening at Idomeni because if the camp would be dismantled – as actually occurred – evidences should be kept. On the other side, this work was useful to start legal procedures to move this vulnerable people to countries with adequate facilities to treat them. A solution that, due to the recent case of Osman, seemed to be effective.

In “stand-by” since this summer

Sahar is from Afghanistan and suffers leg paralysis causing severe pain and reducing her mobility. She started the journey to Europe in a wheelchair with her family, escaping from the Taliban regime of terror in her country. She and her family were under threat because they belong to the Shiite minority, considered heretic by the Taliban.

According to the medical reports issued by some health organizations like the Institut Guttman, Sahar would improve significantly if she was treated. She could recuperate mobility and reduce pain considerably. Some Catalan volunteers provided all corresponding information to start the process and bring her to Catalonia and the case have been presented to the Spanish government last July. However, today Sahar and her family are still waiting in a military refugee camp in Greece.

Like the Sahar one, there are about other forty cases under process of Spanish government. People with heart and respiratory diseases or other serious conditions endangering their health, need to be taken out of the inclemency of Greek refugee camp.

Many of these cases are supported by Spanish local institutions which have committed to find accommodation and make available facilities to treat people. But the arrival of this people has not succeed because these institutions are waiting for the approval of the Spanish government, which formally is the only one who can provide asylum to refugees.

Despite the readiness of some local authorities to receive people and the public declarations of political figures and civil entities representatives, the Spanish government  - who continues to claim that they are working on it – has not handled almost any of the cases presented since last June. Meanwhile, many volunteers and organizations operating on the ground have already alerted that many of these vulnerable people cannot tolerate another winter in a militarized refugee camp in Greece.

While it is true that the Hellenic country has been granting asylum in the most serious cases, often they cannot provide the necessary medical care for these people. Volunteers and organizations on the ground confirm that the Greek health system is collapsed and they do not have enough resources. Currently, more than 60.000 refugees are settled in Greece, and for the most vulnerable cases asylum may not be enough.

For this reason, organizations are claiming to the various Spanish institutions to process urgently the dossier of these people. They remind that granting an EU extraordinary visa is a political decision and that these cases can be included in the quote of 16.000 refugees who Spain committed  to receive with the agreement with EU. However, after one year only 516 have arrived.

Joan Aleix Mata

Facebook/bienvenidos refugiados - Sahar, 15 years old Afghan citizen, suffering leg paralysis