Men­tal ill­ness stalks mi­grant camps

Save the Chil­dren re­port warns of ris­ing self-harm, de­pres­sion in Greek refugee cen­ters

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY KAROLINA TAGARIS

Chil­dren stuck in Greek mi­grant camps are cut­ting them­selves, at­tempt­ing sui­cide and us­ing drugs to cope with “end­less mis­ery,” in­ter­na­tional char­ity Save the Chil­dren said yes­ter­day.

Reuters ob­tained an ad­vance copy of a re­port that marks one year since the Euro­pean Union struck a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees and mi­grants to Greek is­lands.

“Their men­tal health is rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing due to the con­di­tions cre­ated as a re­sult of this deal,” the re­port said, adding con­di­tions in Greek camps had led to a rise in self-harm, ag­gres­sion, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

“One of the most shock­ing and ap­palling de­vel­op­ments Save the Chil­dren staff have wit­nessed is the in­crease in sui­cide at­tempts and self­harm amongst chil­dren as young as 9.”

One 12-year-old boy filmed his sui­cide at­tempt af­ter wit­ness­ing oth­ers try­ing to end their lives, it said.

In 2015, a mil­lion refugees and mi­grants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and be­yond reached Europe, cross­ing over to Greek is­lands from Turkey. The flow has all but stopped since the EU-Ankara deal came into force on March 20, 2016.

Un­der the deal, any­one who crosses into Greece without doc­u­ments can be de­ported to Turkey un­less they qual­ify for asy­lum in Greece. But long asy­lum pro­ce­dures and a huge back­log have stranded 14,000 asy­lum seek­ers on five Greek is­lands, dou­ble the ca­pac­ity.

Save the Chil­dren de­scribed con­di­tions in over­crowded camps as “de­grad­ing” and “de­ten­tion-like,” forc­ing asy­lum seek­ers to fight for ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties such as blan­kets, a dry place to sleep, food, warm water and ac­cess to health­care.

“The liv­ing con­di­tions have made them lose hope and made them feel like an­i­mals and ob­jects – not ex­actly hu­man, but in­fe­rior hu­man be­ings,” the re­port quoted a staff mem­ber of Prak­sis, its part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tion, as say­ing.

Chil­dren had lost all hope that they will leave Greece and be­came im­pa­tient as well as ver­bally and phys­i­cally ag­gres­sive, it said. Oth­ers turned to drugs as a way of cop­ing.

“The con­di­tions are turn­ing chil­dren from young peo­ple who are calm and full of dreams to peo­ple who want to harm prop­erty, oth­ers and them­selves,” another Prak­sis mem­ber was quoted as say­ing. “They say that they feel bad, then some­one of­fers them a pill and prom­ises it will make them feel bet­ter, and then it does and they start tak­ing drugs.”

A boy sleeps inside the dis­used Elliniko air­port where refugees and mi­grants are tem­po­rar­ily housed in Athens, in a file photo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.