Executive Summary for October 20th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including an MSF report on dire conditions in Greek refugee camps, Australia’s exemption of doctors from immigration secrecy laws and the flight of civilians from areas surrounding Mosul.

Published on Oct. 20, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Greek Refugee Camps ‘Appalling,’ Doctors Without Borders Warns

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has released a report warning that thousands of refugees in Greece still live in “appalling” conditions despite funds pledged by the European Union.

The medical organization said the poor conditions and lack of proper health care at the camps has particularly affected the most vulnerable groups of refugees.

“We are talking about torture victims, psychiatric patients, people who use wheelchairs, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women. They are not identified and helped,” MSF’s head of medical operations in Greece, Apostolos Veizis, told the Associated Press.

Around 50,000 refugees and migrants are living in camps and shelters on mainland Greece, and another 14,000 are held in camps on the Greek islands. They have been stranded since European nations shut their borders earlier this year.

MSF appealed to the E.U. to provide emergency aid to the Greek health system, and for Greek authorities to look for alternatives to placing refugees in camps.

“The leaders of Greece and the E.U. keep telling us this is a success, but it isn’t,” Loic Jaeger, MSF’s Greece director, told the news agency. “How much time should it take for the richest countries in the world to accommodate 40,000 people?”

Australia Exempts Doctors From Refugee Camp Secrecy Laws

Australia has quietly removed doctors from its list of immigration workers who can be prosecuted for revealing information about treatment of refugees.

A controversial Australian law last year made it illegal for people in the sector to disclose “protected information,” punishable by two years in prison, raising fears that it would target whistleblowers who reveal abuse at Australia’s secretive offshore detention centers.

Volunteer organization Doctors for Refugees launched a legal challenge to the law in July, arguing that it unconstitutionally impinged free political communication.

They discovered this week that the Australian government has recently exempted doctors and other health professionals from the law, but said they would pursue their legal challenge in order to protect others such as teachers and social workers.

Thousands Flee Mosul Area as Battle Advances

Civilians are fleeing the area around Mosul as Iraqi and Kurdish troops advance towards the city currently held by ISIS.

Around 5,000 people have crossed the border into northern Syria and arrived at a refugee camp in the al-Houl area since last week, Save the Children said.

The aid group warned that water and sanitation were inadequate at the camp, which is “littered with waste and feces, with a looming risk of outbreaks of disease.”

A Kurdish official told Reuters that another 3,000 people are waiting at the border to cross into Syria, and said local authorities were trying to facilitate their passage.

Once military forces reach the city of Mosul, humanitarian officials have warned that there may be a mass exodus of civilians, with up to 1 million people displaced.

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