In a new report released Thursday, the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced the desperate situation facing migrants trapped on Greek islands as “unacceptable,” saying it is yet another failure of the overall E.U. policy on migration.
Some 24,000 men, women and children are trapped on the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios, in terrible situations: MFS said migrants, seeking protection in Europe, have been “deliberately neglected” by Greek and European authorities.
The report comes one day after Greek police fired tear gas at hundreds of children who protested in a packed migrant camp on Lesbos on Wednesday.
Mental and physical health resources for the migrants are not adequate, consequently creating an unstable situation inside and outside the camps.
MFS’s pediatric mental health teams working on Lesbos said that in the months of July and August, of the 73 children referred to the teams, three had attempted to kill themselves and 17 of them were self-harming.
At the moment the MFS’s pediatric clinic is hosting 100 children with complex or chronic medical conditions, all of whom need to be relocated to better facilities to receive adequate treatment.
“More and more of these children stop playing, have nightmares, are afraid to go out of their tents and start to withdraw from life,” says Katrin Brubakk, MSF’s mental health activity manager on Lesbos.
MSF called on the Greek government, the E.U, and its member states to act according to their responsibilities and put an end to the crisis.
To do so, the organization said they must urgently allow children and the most vulnerable to be evacuated from the islands, and that the number of medical staff in Greek reception centers must be increased.
MSF also blasted the E.U.’s so-called “containment policy,” which it says strips migrants of their dignity, violates their fundamental rights, and perpetuates unnecessary suffering.
“This is not a new emergency: the severe overcrowding in the reception centers is a policy-driven crisis harming thousands of men, women and children every day, for years. We have seen it in the past and we continue to see it today,” said Tommaso Santo, MSF’s head of mission in Greece.
“More than 3 years after locking up asylum seekers in desperate conditions on the Greek islands, should we conclude that the Greek and E.U. authorities are hoping to rely on this shameful reception failure as a way to deter new migrants’ arrivals to the E.U.? The recent spike in arrivals indicates that this temporary solution is not sustainable and keeps on harming people,” he added.
Another summer, another mental health crisis on the Greek islands. @MSF calls on Greek and EU authorities to urgently respond to the health and humanitarian needs of those seeking safety, freedom and a future on European shores.https://t.co/e56nnD6jpK
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) September 5, 2019
Even with the recent transfers of almost 1,500 vulnerable people from Lesbos to the mainland, the international organization denounced that at least 2,500 people who have been officially recognized as vulnerable remain on Lesbos.
Only last week, the island has seen the highest single influx of people since the height of the migrant crisis in 2016, as more than 600 refugees arrived by boat in one day. MSF called also on a rapid and implemented identification that can at least avoid the recurrent overcrowding on the islands.