Outside it appears that hell has gone loose. A shouting crowd is spreading out like a fire through the camp in the direction of our medical cabin. There is a fight going on between different ethnicities and it is causing anger and frustration. I can’t blame them. The camp is overcrowded, sanitation is far below standard. People are living closely packed to each other in tents or cabins. Medical care can not reach the needs. Many of the refugees are traumatized, have lost family members because of IS or the Taliban. With this background they are inhabitants of the camp. What is right and what is wrong? The Greek government clearly can’t cope with the huge influx of refugees. Where should these people go? Send them back to their home country where it isn’t save? Transfer them to other European countries where the boundaries are more and more closed due to fear of terroristic attacks? I am no politician, I am a doctor and the only thing I know for certain is the immense suffering of women, men and most of all children.Welcome to camp Moira.
While the turmoil increases we are called up to go to an emergency. It is already midnight. We are packed with emergency bags and are following our translator who knows which tent we need to go to. The call did not say what was exactly wrong. The only thing we know is that the patient is a pregnant woman who is in distress. My colleague is an American pediatrician. We are both a bit frightened while on our way to the tent. The situation in the camp is tense. Once in the tent we find a woman who is lying on the floor. In a wildly manner she is striking out with her arms and legs. The woman is surrounded by at least eight to ten other women. They are trying to keep her cool or are praying to Allah for her well being. Everybody is shouting and are in panic. ‘Help her, help her.’ We have no idea of the duration of her pregnancy and we want to rule out pre eclampsia. The physical exam is normal and the patient seems to be conscious every now and then followed by striking out with her arms and legs again in a angry manor. All of a sudden her husband decides that he doesn’t want us to be there any longer. He is thanking us through the translator. We try to explain that we advice to let the baby have a check up even though the mother seems to be fine but he is persistent. The translator gives us an explanation: they believe the women is haunted by a ghost. We have no other choice then to go back to the medical cabin. The fights in the camp have increased and gone bad. We rush ourselves out of there.
Back in the medical cabin there are still many patients waiting to be seen by a doctor. ‘Next patient!’ A young man with an average age of eighteen years old comes in. There is no translator and the patient only speaks a little bit English. ‘No sleep doctor, no sleep.’ I can see that there are many scars on his arms. Most likely self inflicted out of despair. He is pointing out to his right foot. He can not walk on this foot anymore because it is malformed. It is not the first time I come across this kind of injury. The IS takes pleasure in torturing young men their feet in a way I don’t want to know. ‘Is it IS?’ I ask. He is nodding. It makes me sick. We hear it on the news, we read it in the newspaper, but seeing it here in real live makes it reality and I am disgusted by it. Makes me angry also. What kind of world are we living in? Unfortunately I can not do much for the boy. Many refugees suffer from anxiety and or sleeping problems due to the trauma’s they have been through. We don’t have sleeping medication. We talk a bit, I try to console him. He is leaving and is thanking me many times. What for? I feel powerless.
Outside it becomes more quiet. The police seems to have the situation under controle. The people are also tired from fighting against frustration most likely. A few patients enter our cabin. Mainly toothache. Another difficult issue here in the camp. We don’t have a dentist.
The last patients are seen and we can lie down a bit. My American colleague and I are sharing a room. ‘It feels so wrong all of this, dont you agree?’ ‘Yes, I agree.’ Wrong is what it feels. Wrong is what it is.