Refugees and migrants wait to be transferred from the island of Lesbos to the Greek mainland | Photo: AFP/MANOLIS LAGOUTARIS
Refugees and migrants wait to be transferred from the island of Lesbos to the Greek mainland | Photo: AFP/MANOLIS LAGOUTARIS

Eighteen associations promoting the health rights of migrants and refugees have appealed to European governments and to EMPs to change the model of large holding centers in the new European pact on migration and asylum. Large centers, they said in the recent appeal, "have devastating effects on the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers."

Large migrant centers have devastating effects on the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers, 18 rights groups have denounced in an appeal to European governments and lawmakers.

"Centers of large dimensions like Moria, opened in Greece and Italy to realize the so-called Hotspot Approach, have devastating effects on the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers.

"The new pact on migration and asylum, far from being the 'new beginning' described by the European Commission when it presented it last September, risks to foster the model of large hosting centers, especially in countries tasked with controlling the external borders of the European Union," said the 18 associations in a document addressing European institutions and governments.

The organizations included, among others, Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU), the Association for juridical studies on immigration (ASGI), the Astalli Center, the Community of Sant'Egidio, Intersos, Médecins du Monde (MDM), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Oxfam Italia.

Large centers hamper integration, associations say

"Strong overcrowding; geographical and social isolation; very long permanence while waiting for a stay permit and/or access to an asylum procedure; difficulty to access healthcare assistance and social services; episodes of social degradation and violence; grave limitations to personal freedom and circulation: these are some of the characteristics of large hosting centers which, according to a recent study by MEDU, are places with characteristics that can determine the worst form of post-traumatic stress disorder," the associations said in a statement.

The consequences on psychological and physical health of this type of facility "constitute a persistent obstacle to the integration process of migrants and refugees in hosting countries with significant human, health, social and economic costs."

While the new Pact "is now being examined by the European Parliament and the European Council that have put it on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of interior ministers on December 14, the signatory organizations urge European governments and lawmakers to learn from the ruinous experience of the recent past."

'It is time for EU to abandon model of mega-centers, hotspots'

The organizations highlighted that it is today necessary to have an effective and equal redistribution of asylum seekers among European countries, as well as protocols for a timely and thorough evaluation of asylum applications.

"It is time for the EU to abandon the model of mega-centers, hotspots," the organizations said, by "choosing to promote policies for hosting facilities of small dimension that are well integrated in their social context, provided with adequate services."

The facilities should provide "appropriate access to medical and psychological assistance" while promoting "real inclusion to the benefit of refugees and of the societies welcoming them," highlighted the associations.

 

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