NEWS

Epidemic fear as Afghan migrants come

A leading humanitarian group yesterday called on the government to take swift action in order to minimize the risk of epidemics spread by the uncontrolled influx of refugees from Afghanistan that has surged since the West began bombing the country. If measures are not taken immediately, there is the danger of epidemics breaking out, pediatrician Agis Terzidis, a member of the Greek branch of Medecins du Monde, told Kathimerini. Terzidis said visits to the organization’s clinic have doubled since the bombing of Afghanistan started. Many of the refugees treated suffer from respiratory complaints such as bronchitis, pneumonia, skin diseases such as scabies, as well as from hepatitis A and B and tuberculosis. Hundreds of illegal immigrants from Afghanistan have been arrested over the past few weeks – many of whom made the sea crossing from Turkey in rubber dinghies or rough rafts – while no estimates are available for the number that succeeded in reaching Greek shores. The new arrivals have swelled the population of Afghans already camping out in Athenian parks and squares and who, as Terzidis noted, are already more likely to be exposed to disease. The doctor said most of the Afghan children he has recently examined were malnourished and exhausted. The majority is underweight and stunted, he said. As for their skin complaints, these are directly linked to their living conditions, as they are not in a position to wash or change into clean clothes.