Interpreting of training seminars for medical staff at Refugee Reception Centres


In response to the refugee crisis reaching its peak in 2015, major public and international bodies have been working in Greece to help with the reception of refugees and migrants. With that in mind, in 2017 a training course was organised at first reception stations by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund. The programme was primarily aimed at newly appointed healthcare professionals who staffed the reception centres in Mytilene, Hios, Samos and Kos, and volunteers from NGOs were given the chance to attend.

Professionals from the following areas of specialisation attended the seminars:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • NGO volunteers


The aim of the seminars was to train new staff on specific medical and legal issues by preparing them for the reception and care of refugees. The specific issues examined included:

  • How to deal with sexual reproductive health emergencies
  • How to do with sexual reproductive health issues in adolescents
  • A sociological approach to gender-based violence
  • Medical identification and treatment of cases of gender-based violence
  • What role does consent as a legal factor play in medical treatment of cases of gender-based violence?
  • Medical identification and treatment of victims of human trafficking
  • Clinical management of rape victims
  • The rules in the Greek protocol on clinical management of rape cases
  • The rules in the Istanbul protocol on effective investigation and documentation of torture complaints
  • When and how to refer patients
  • How to fill out referral forms
  • The role of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in Greece
  • The concept of vulnerability and how it affects the assessment of the asylum application
  • The asylum procedure in Greece and how it can be affected by medical opinions

The seminars instructors were:

  • The head of the UN Population Fund’s programme for sociological analysis of concepts
  • Doctors – experts from the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO) for issues related to clinical management and handling of various cases
  • EASO representative on the role of his organisation and the concept of vulnerability
  • Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on the analysis of the asylum system and referrals


The task was assigned to me by the agency Your Interpreter run by my colleague Zoe Resta and was offered at a three-day training seminar in Mytilene. I worked in partnership with my colleague at this seminar since the sessions were all day and two interpreters were needed.

During our preparation we examined the material provided in advance by the instructors, the asylum legislation and the relevant protocols. We then identified the legal and medical terminology relevant to the seminars and distributed the presentations between ourselves taking into account any previous specialisation or experience with specific issue. 

The language combination was Greek to English and vice versa. The majority of participants were Greek-speaking, while there were a few people from foreign NGOs who did not speak Greek. Whispered interpreting into English was provided to NGO volunteers for any talks by instructors in Greek. Consecutive interpreting into Greek was provided for all participants when the instructors spoke in English.


Professional interpreting helps you achieve your training aims better since thanks to the interpreter, everyone is fully understood, can actively participate and easily engage in constructive discussions. When it comes to critical, sensitive issues which will affect your operations and how you effectively handle difficult situations, interpreting is essential.

As a professional interpreter and translator I can assist you by:

  • Providing interpreting services (simultaneous, whispered and consecutive depending on the circumstances)
  • Assembling a team of interpreters for longer seminars or to cover a wide range of languages
  • Translating your training materials and presentations
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