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Dentaid and the Greek refugee camps

Background to crisis 

Civil war, natural disasters and violent conflicts within Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, have led to the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The lives of millions of people native to these countries have been irrevocably devastated. Those who managed to escape have since fled in hope of finding sanctuary inside Europe.

During the peak of the crisis, Greece saw an influx of up to 4,000 individuals arriving on the Aegean Islands daily. Camps have been erected to temporarily house those in need. However, they are in old airport buildings, derelict stadiums and other dire locations, many of which do not meet accepted humanitarian standards of living.

State of camps

Migrants are suffering in squalid conditions. Medical volunteers have described the state of camps as “post-apocalyptic.” With only blankets and sheets to make crude shelters, infection spreads easily and the health of migrants is deteriorating rapidly. Volunteers are working endlessly to provide basic healthcare but at this time there is no dental treatment.

Refugees often have an elevated risk of poor oral health, the reasons for this can include:

  • Torture related injuries to the mouth and face
  • Conflict resulting in closures of dental services and disruptions to hygiene practices
  • Poor diet and nutrition whilst in exile
  • Lack of water fluoridation
  • Prolonged anxiety leading to acidic reflux, grinding, bruxism, and reduced motivation for self-care

Extended stays within poorly supplied camps only adds to the desperate situation.

How Dentaid are assisting

Dentaid has been improving oral health around the world since 1996. They are serving the cause by supplying volunteer dentists, nurses and therapists to various refugee camps in northern Greece. Together with the Red Cross and HealthPoint Foundation, they are working to improve sanitation and healthcare within the camps. The chief objective will be to triage, treat and supply aftercare to the refugees, yet there will still be a focus on oral health education to help prevent further dental issues.

Dentaid has been outstanding support for the refugee camps within Greece, providing a continuous stream of volunteer dentists and nurses. Dental care isn’t going to fix to the crisis but it is a huge unmet need in the camps. If volunteers can help those living in exile live a more comfortable life, then they are truly providing an invaluable service.

 ‘We left hundreds of people in considerably less pain and healthier than they were.’

The generosity and devotion of the volunteers, along with all donations received to date, have been vital to their aid. If you would like to become involved in helping the organisation through volunteer work or donation of supplies, please contact: info@dentaid.org

To find out more about the charities and organisations we work with, view our Charities page.