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12-year-old refugee girl in hospital after self-harm with sharp object

A 12-year-old refugee girl was transferred to a hospital in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece on Tuesday noon. She girl had suffered injuries she caused to herself with a sharp object while in the reception center where she has been living with her family.

The refugee girl from Iran was living in the reception center of Nea Apollonia.

The family moved last month from the notorious hot spot of Moria on Lesvos to Northern Greece when the Greek government started to transfer families and vulnerable people to the mainland.

The refugee girl had psychological problems and was under psychological supervision in Moria, private ANT1 TV reported.

The girl had a light injury in her wrist, local media report.

As the girl’s life was not in danger, her parents insisted of taking her back to the camp and signed all relevant papers.

Charity organizations have warned of increasing suicide attempts and self-harm by refugee children as young as 10 years old in the overcrowded hot spot of Moria.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) made one more appeal to Greek authorities last month urging them for emergency evacuation from Moria to safe accommodation on the Greek mainland and in the European Union..

Criticizing the appalling living conditions in Moria,  the MSF said  that there were multiple cases each week of teenagers who have attempted to commit suicide or self-harmed.

Between February and June this year, in a group mental health activity for children (aged between six and 18 years), MSF teams observed that nearly a quarter of the children participating (18 of 74 children) had self-harmed, attempted suicide or had thought about committing suicide. Other child patients were suffering from elective mutism, panic attacks, anxiety, aggressive outbursts and constant nightmares.

“These children come from countries in war, where they have experienced very extreme violence and trauma. Rather than receiving care and protection in Europe, they are instead subjected to ongoing fear, stress and episodes of further violence, including sexual violence,” says Dr. Declan Barry, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece.

“Moreover, the environment is unsafe and unsanitary, and as a result we see many cases of recurrent diarrhea and skin infections in children of all ages. At this level of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, the risk of outbreaks is very high”.

MSF has treated many children who have been identified by the hospital as needing care in Athens, however due to a lack of accommodation on the mainland, these children cannot access that care, and so are forced to live in an environment where their medical condition and mental health deteriorates.

More than 400 asylum refugees have been transferred from Moria to the mainland since the MSF appeal, but can the transfer alone heal the children’s wounds?

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