As the Refugee Crisis Engulfs the European Union; Draconian Laws Bar Remote Area Medical’s ™ Volunteer Doctors from Providing Disaster Relief and Emergency Aid for war torn Syrians
by Cristiane Roget, correspondent PR World Media
“A rubber stamp proves to be more powerful than triage bandages,” says JC Gomez, Isolux Corsan North America’s Environmental, Health and Safety Director and RAM Volunteer
Chios/Greece : A group of Remote Area Medical’s (RAMUSA.org) volunteer doctors and nurses from the USA and Canada are slated to embark for the Greek Islands of Lesbos, Kos and Chios. That is, if Stan Brock, RAM Founder is able to navigate the miles of bureaucratic red tape imposed by the European Union. EU regulations require US and Canadian volunteer Doctors receive clearances from the destination country in order to administer emergency aid and disaster relief.
RAM is actively seeking permission to waive the requirements while waves of war ravaged Syrians and Middle Eastern immigrants arrive daily at the European Union borders. “Were it not for these draconian laws we would have been on the ground three months ago!” confirms Brock, a British philanthropist and conservationist.
Founded in 1985, RAM volunteers provide for victims of natural disasters, calamities of war and the underserved. Remote Area Medical’s 92,000 volunteers comprise one of the largest all volunteer emergency relief organization in the world. Providing close to a 100 million dollars in free global medical assistance; recent expeditions include Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti and Guyana.
An estimated 11.6 Million men, women and children are currently uprooted in the Middle East. The Geneva based International Organization for Migration confirms 630, 701 Syrians and other asylum seekers have crossed over the Mediterranean this year with Reuters’ estimating a surge of 800,000 by the end of 2015.
“Without the formality of EU clearances RAM Medics may be turned back, “says JC Gomez a former RAM volunteer to India. “A rubber stamp may prove to be more powerful than triage and bandages,” he says.
Mohammed Hassan a Toronto based documentary filmmaker confirms that this problem is chronic elsewhere as well. While filming ‘For Darfur, From Despair to Hope,’ his crew witnessed Save The Children, Doctors without Borders and other NGO’s denied entry at refugee camps in Alshfir, and Niala, Sudan.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. St Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles was contacted to elicit help in expediting the permits. A staff member suggested boldly, “The RAM doctors should just pack up and go. Greece is collapsing. The EU is in shambles. This would be the humane thing to do! ”.
“EU governance preventing RAM and other like minded organizations to treat the sick and wounded should be abolished ,” says Mohammed. “An all volunteer, nonprofit medical organization should not be held to the same bureaucratic protocols as physicians who provide medical care for profit”.
Embarking from the Port of Bodrum, Turkey, countless thousands have been swept ashore in the sparsely inhabited Greek Dodecanese Islands. The islands serve as the stepping stones to the EU mainland. As their numbers swell resistance mounts from empathy to angst. Border patrols are mobilizing, train stations are refusing service and a 110 mile razor wire fence is being proposed by the Hungarian Parliament. Alexandra Papachristo of the Greek Consulate in Atlanta, confirms, “the Greek Government has created an office under the direction of Ms. Koufopantelis to coordinate Humanitarian Relief efforts.” RAM is awaiting acknowledgment of their request for leniency at the time of this writing.
Greek citizens as well as those seeking asylum have been unwittingly caught up in the bureaucratic dragnet. Says Chios native Angela Vitellas, an Architect speaking from White Plains , New York, “I just returned from Greece and it is a disgrace. Families with babies are sleeping under Mastic trees without potable water and are surviving on handouts. We are not lacking in compassion. Local communities have rallied as best they can. EU austerity measures have Greece and less economically robust countries in a stranglehold.
Chios Mayor, Emmanouil Vournous states, “the influx of immigrants have our communities overwhelmed. They arrive injured, battered, hungry and dispossessed. Local clinics and hospitals are not staffed to treat the 1000’s in need. We welcome RAM’s assistance”.
Suat Ismirli of Anadol Inc., a successful businessman in Atlanta, GA has offered to accommodate RAM’s medical staff in Bodrum, Turkey; a jump off point in the Mediterranean. He warns, “As the severity of winter approaches the mass exodus may bypass the Greek islands altogether and attempt the onerous overland trek to northern Greece, Macedonia and onto EU member states to the North.”
“An ad hoc group of concerned citizens have coalesced around RAM. They are reaching out to anyone who may be of assistance, “ says Oriane Leake, RAM Volunteer Manager “Among them are Ms. Koufopantelis in charge of Humanitarian Relief Issues, Chios Mayor Emmanouil Vournous, the Turkish and Greek Consuls in the United States, several senators and congressmen and Dr. Ian Norton, Emergency Risk Manager for the World Health Organization in Geneva.
“Obstructing medical practitioners in times of crisis who are sworn “to do no harm” is a travesty against humanity” says Francois Hyunh President of AdAvenueGroup and PRNews Media, global news reporters.
“When catastrophic and natural disasters occur trained volunteers should be embraced rather than hampered. While RAM’s resolute staff navigates the EU’s bureaucratic labyrinth we have not neglected our core mission,” Brock sighs. Om the home front RAMusa has set up pop-up clinics in the Appalachian Mountains in recent weeks treating over 3000 patients .
“Medical based relief organizations and emergency workers should be granted access wherever they are needed,” says Vasiliki Karlin a health and epidermal practitioner. She has served RAM as a translator from English to Greek to abide by the rules and regulations that trump the human suffering. As RAM scrambles to secure the mandatory permits the minutes tick by. “We may never know how much more anguish and untimely death could have been alleviated in the interim.” says RAM Founder Stan Brock.
National Public Radio-Coverage August 2015 http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=431287829&m=431343158 CBS News 60 MINUTES segment RAMUSA http://vimeo.com/753559.
Photo Caption – Chios Mayor, Emmanouil Vournous, takes an enlightened view of the mass exodus engulfing the Greek Islands.