Asylum Seeker Passes Away In Hospital Waiting Room

In the winter of 2018, I received the devastating news of an elderly man, – an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, who had passed away in Mytilene hospital waiting room, after being denied urgent medical care. Among 8,000 other people, the man lived under hard conditions in camp Moria, where basic needs and care are inaccessible. He was staying in the single-male section, section B, as he didn’t have his family around him and was alone in the camp. Section B is known to be the worst in the camp and unsuitable for an aged vulnerable person, or anyone for that matter. He was often spotted right outside the gates of Moria with his shoe cleaning kit, ringed by flip-flops, sneakers and sandals, all in line to be repaired in exchange for a few extra bucks.

He was a quiet and respected man, who had a sense of peace around him.

The winters in Lesvos are rough and each year, there are cases of people who die as a result. People struggle to keep themselves warm and use dangerous methods in order to keep up the temperature inside the thin, plastic tents. Fires, explosions and gas inhalations are not unusual and many become sick and some pass away. After two weeks of heavy rain falls and wind, the elderly Afghani man had become sick. With no family around him, he went alone to search for help from volunteers who were operating in the camp. He was dropped of at the local hospital and walked alone into the emergency room, where he approached a nurse for help, but turned down because he couldn't speak the language and didn't have a translator by his side. In order to get help at the hospital, you have to speak Greek or have a translator with you. Because Mytilene hospital is the only one on the island, the waiting time for medical care is long and painful. The lack of doctors, nurses and translators leave many untreated and locals have begun transferring to mainland for medical care. With no translator and no assistance, the man took a seat in the waiting room, where he quietly passed away two hours later. Including being a refugee forced to flee from persecution and living under inhumane environments, this happening overstepped no less than twelve human rights laws. §1. We are all born free & equal, §2. Don't discriminate, §3. The right to life, §5. No torture, §6. You have rights no matter where you go, §8. Your human rights are protected by law, §13. Freedom to move, §14. Right to seek a safe place to live, §22. Social security, §25. Food and shelter for all §29. Responsibility §30. No one can take away your human rights

Human rights are being violated every day, harming millions of people. Though we have come far, there is still a long road ahead. We must continue to fight for human rights. Humanity is our only option left.

Photo by Ahmad Ibrahima
Hjørdis Kiara Zachariassen
Hjørdis Kiara Zachariassen
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