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MSF: 3 migrant children attempted suicide, 17 had injured themselves

Children are the real victims of the Migration policy, many of them are not in position to comply with the harsh realities. According to a press release by Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Greece, in the summer months of July and August, three children attempted  suicide and 17 had injured themselves. Ten of a total of 73 children referred to MSF were under the age of six, the youngest being just two.

Vulnerable people trapped in islands pay for inhumane policies of EU-Turkey Agreement. About 24,000 men, women and children seeking protection in Europe are trapped in tragic living conditions on Greek islands, while Greek and Greek European authorities have deliberately abandoned them, the MSF said in the press release:

The devastating crisis that affects the health of thousands of vulnerable people is the result of a problematic reception system, lack of protection mechanisms and inadequate service provision. This shows that the European Union’s policy of restricting and deterring migration management has failed.

For over four years, Doctors Without Borders has been working in several Greek islands, but today humanitarian and medical intervention is largely a matter for voluntary organizations that replace state responsibilities. Today, Doctors Without Borders has once again been forced to scale up its activities: hundreds of medical sessions are held daily in Lesvos, Samos and Chios, while in coordination with other voluntary and non-governmental organizations Doctors Without Borders is increasing for the immigrant population and distribute basic essentials on a regular basis.

“The situation in the Greek islands is not new. The overcrowding in refugee camps is a crisis caused by European policies and has had a huge negative impact on men, women and children for years, ”says Vassilis Stravaridis, Director General of Médecins Sans Frontières. “More than 3 years have passed since the EU-Turkey Agreement and should we consider that the Greek and European authorities are using this embarrassing failure to host refugees as a means of deterring new arrivals to Europe?”

As arrivals from the sea have reached their highest point since 2016, Doctors Without Borders pediatric mental health teams in Lesbos have seen child referrals double in July compared to previous months. In July and August, 73 children were referred to our teams: three had attempted suicide and 17 had committed suicide. Ten of the 73 children were under the age of six, the youngest being just two.

“More and more of these kids stop playing, see nightmares, are afraid to get out of their tent and start retiring from life,” says Kathryn Bruback, a mental health officer in Lesvos. “Some of them just stop talking. With overcrowding, violence and lack of security in the camp increasing, the situation for children is getting worse day by day. In order to prevent permanent damage, these children must leave the Moria camp immediately. “

At the Doctors Without Borders pediatric clinic we have nearly 100 children with complex or chronic health problems, including young children with severe heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy and war injuries. They are all waiting to move to the mainland to access the specialized care they need.

In the camp in Vathi, Samos, the situation is unbearable, according to Doctors Without Borders, where 5,000 people crowd into a place designed for 650. Most live in the “jungle”, an area outside the camp. The lack of protection and basic services raises the risk of people being subjected to new psychological trauma, with reports of incidents of harassment, sexual assault and other forms of violence increasing.

The Greek government recently transferred nearly 1,500 vulnerable people from Lesvos. However, Doctors Without Borders believes that moving people to scenes in the mainland is not a safe or effective solution to the chronic overcrowding and its effects on human health. At least 2,500 people who are officially identified as vulnerable remain in Lesvos despite being entitled to move to a safe place for specialized care. This number does not include thousands of possibly others who have not yet been identified as vulnerable.

Doctors Without Borders appeals to the Greek Government, the European Union and the Member States to assume their responsibilities and put an end to this unacceptable and devastating crisis, and in particular demand:

Immediately remove children and vulnerable people from the islands and transport them to safe and appropriate accommodation in mainland Greece and / or other European countries.
Immediately increase the number of medical staff in reception centers so that people can receive physical and mental health care

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