Refugees wait to enter the registration office in the Moria refuge camp, on the island of Lesbos in Greece, 22 May 2017. Swiss Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommarug visits the refugee camps Moria and Kara Tepe, as well as the capital Athens. EPA/PETER KLAUNZER
Refugees wait to enter the registration office in the Moria refuge camp, on the island of Lesbos in Greece, 22 May 2017. Swiss Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommarug visits the refugee camps Moria and Kara Tepe, as well as the capital Athens. EPA/PETER KLAUNZER

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is sounding an alarm over the situation at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where it said the situation is degenerating into chaos.There are currently 8,000 migrants housed in the camp, which is designed to hold a maximum of 3,000.

Migrant and refugee arrivals are continuing unabated at the Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, where 8,000 people are currently being housed in a camp with a maximum capacity to hold 3,000, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF). 


It said that with the continual rise in population, the camp "is descending into chaos, with regular clashes and riots, incidents of sexual violence, and a sinking state of mental health for the thousands of people trapped in the camp". 

'Compromised health' 

In a statement, the organization said that for the 8,000 people living in the camp, "Conditions are so bad that people's medical and mental health is being heavily compromised. In the past few months, MSF has witnessed further escalations of everyday violence, and treated cases of sexual violence that have occurred in and around the camp". 

It said much of the tension is caused by overcrowding and a lack of decent and humane living conditions. "In the main area of Moria camp and in the adjacent overflow camp known as Olive Grove, there are 72 people per functioning toilet and 84 people per functioning shower. This is well below the recommended humanitarian standards in emergency situations," the statement said. 

The MSF mental health clinic in Mytilene "only accepts the most severe cases of mental health problems, and is currently working at full capacity". 

Worrisome conditions for minors 

"Part of the reason people's mental health deteriorates so drastically here in Lesbos is that they come from traumatizing experiences, and reach Europe hoping for refuge and dignity. But what they find is the opposite: more violence and more inhumane conditions," said Giovanna Bonvini, mental health activity manager at Mytilene clinic. 

Every week, the organization receives between 15 to 18 referrals, including children, for cases of acute mental health problems. But it said this is just the tip of the iceberg. "The majority of these people are new arrivals suffering from psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, agitation, confusion and disorientation, and who have strong suicidal ideations or have attempted suicide," said Dr. Alessandro Barberio, MSF psychiatrist at Mytilene clinic. The organization said that another "deeply worrying" situation is that of unaccompanied children who are being re-traumatised by their experiences of living in Moria. 

"In the past four weeks, we have received an increase in the number of minors suffering from intense panic attacks, suicidal ideations and suicide attempts. The appalling living conditions and the everyday violence in Moria camp is having a severely detrimental impact on the mental health of our patients, and is causing many of our patients to develop severe mental health conditions," Barberio said. 

MSF is calling for vulnerable people to be moved out of Moria into secure accommodation and continues to call for a decongestion of the camp. 
 

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