Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.
COVID-19 Prevention Statement By Survivors2 Advocacy Group, Greece
This direct advocacy piece from a group of torture survivors living in Greece is important because it highlights the unique power and expertise that survivors hold, as they speak directly to issues they are being affected by and living through. Their piece also highlights the failures of the Greek government to protect them from COVID-19, which in the end is a failure to protect everyone living in Greece.
Survivors2 is a self-advocacy group comprising asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented people who have experienced torture currently living in Greece. All members of the group are either current or former patients of the Medécins sans Frontières rehabilitation clinic for torture survivors, based in Athens, Greece. In this piece the group directly addresses the Greek government on its own and on ‘behalf of their brothers and sisters living in Greece.’
They state that as well as their health having intrinsic importance and that they have a right to health care in Greece, their health is directly linked to all people in Greece and the Greek state. They highlight that the government has been intent on stemming the spread of COVID-19 amongst its citizens, but it has not focused on protecting the more than 115,000 refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented people. They go on to describe the abysmal living and sanitation conditions of Moria reception centre on Lesvos and the failure to provide people with adequate information and resources about how they can protect themselves. They are worried. Everyone must stay at home, but Survivors2 asks: “What happens if your home is in a camp?” How can people be expected to follow government guidelines when they have no access to the necessary resources? The group emphasises that the government has been abusing and marginalising refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented people for years and that the conditions they are forced to live in are dangerous.
Survivors2 ends by reminding the government that, just like all other citizens in Greece they too inhabit the country, also have a right to healthcare and that they are worried about their own health and the health of the country. They then provide some recommendations for the government.
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