Doctors Group Says Migrant Children in Lesbos Camp Stressed Out

Αssociated Press

Migrants stand behind a fence at Karatepe refugee camp, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Monday, March 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)

The group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said 456 children in a migrant camp on the island of Lesbos had to be treated for mental health problems between 2019 and 2020, including 32 unaccompanied minors.

They displayed trauma and fear-induced symptoms, often triggered by their lives in camps that activists said was inhumane before it was burned down in a COVID-19 lockdown protest, people moved to a temporary tent city.

The MSF report entitled Constructing Crisis at Europe’s borders cited a nightmare of problems for residents of the camp, one of five Greek islands near the coast of Turkey holding refugees and migrants.

The NGO said the main symptoms included: sleep disturbance and nightmares, overall fear, behavioral regression and development delays, helplessness and detachment and psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches, stomach aches and dizziness, said Kathimerini.

There were also “alarming” high rates of self-harm and suicidal acts among children, the report continued, the camps in operation some six years as people linger hoping for asylum applications to be approved.

Out of the 180 MSF patients who had experienced self-harm, suicidal ideation or had attempted suicide, more than two thirds were children, the youngest of which was a six-year-old child, the report said.

Among the 32 unaccompanied children treated in the paediatric clinic, 20 percent had engaged in self-harming behavior and 15 percent experienced suicidal ideation, the report also added.

MSF staff observed that “the significant rates of suicidal thoughts and self-harming as an unfortunate consequence of an unsafe environment, extended limbo and uncertainty, it was also said.

MSF mental health projects on Chios, Lesvos and Samos treated 1,369 patients between 2019 and 2020 the doctors said, the problems showing no signs of abating despite repeated promises from successive governments.