Adults and minors refugees and migrants stand behind razor wire at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece on September 19, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis
Adults and minors refugees and migrants stand behind razor wire at Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos island, Greece on September 19, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Vangelis Papantonis

Many refugees and migrants in camps on the Greek islands suffer from severe mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, according to a new report by the International Rescue Committee.

Over the last two years, living conditions for migrants and refugees in reception centers on Greece's Eastern Aegean islands have "worsened significantly", according a new report released by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Thursday, October 17. This, in turn, has meant that more migrants struggle with significant mental health issues, according to the IRC.

"People who came in search of safety are instead further traumatised by their present and anxious about their future," the organization argues in its report.

Migrants with depression, anxiety, PTSD

Three out of four of the people the IRC assisted through its mental health programs on Lesbos, Chios and Samos reportedly experienced symptoms such as sleeping problems, depression and anxiety. At least two out of five people reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the report -- which is entitled 'Cruelty of Containment' -- said.

Nearly one in ten IRC patients reportedly had psychotic symptoms and/or were self-harming. One in three people reported suicidal thoughts, while one in five reported having made attempts to take their lives, according to the IRC report.

Coronavirus lockdowns made things worse

According to the IRC, the situation of migrants and refugees with mental health problems worsened during the COVID-19 lockdowns at the camps. The organizations saw spikes in psychotic symptoms and self-harm, and more people reported symptoms of PTSD.

IRC quotes a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan staying at Moria in August 2020 in its report, describing the situation during the lockdown: "We couldn't leave Moria to get to the beach or even sit under the trees... We were stuck inside the camp and couldn't go outside without permission. I was worried, but my mother was very stressed. She cried all the time. Because of her health issues she was really afraid of COVID-19. She couldn't use the toilet because it was filthy and we couldn't even get soap to wash our hands."

Criticism of Kara Tepe camp

The data and quotes in the report were collected from 904 people supported by the IRC's mental health programs on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos over two and a half years until October 2020, acording to the organization.

Around 15,000 migrants and refugees are currently living in camps on the Greek islands. Around 7,000 of them live in the Kara Tepe camp on Lesbos, which was hastily erected after Moria camp burned down. Many humanitarian organizations have criticized living conditions at the camp, which was flooded three times recently.

 

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