Doctors Without Borders strongly criticized Greece and the European Union for their treatment of migrants and refugees, one year after a fire destroyed the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. They also denounced the construction of new camps "similar to prisons" on the Aegean islands.
One year after a fire destroyed the notoriously overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) released a statement, commenting on the current situation of refugees and migrants on the Greek islands.
"European and Greek leaders continue to deny basic dignity to asylum seekers and migrants searching for safety in Europe," they said in a statement released on Friday (September 10).
Mental health struggles for refugees, migrants
They said that the many challenges refugees and migrants face on the islands -- "the limbo situation..., the arbitrary and fast track asylum processes, the fear of deportation, and the precarious living conditions" -- have negatively impacted the physical and mental health of many camp residents.
They said that among the patients in its Lesbos clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive disorder symptoms are common, "being present in close to or more than half our child and adult patients."
The organization said that refugee and migrant children seeking mental health support on Lesbos often exhibited "regressive behaviours such as aggression, withdrawal and secondary enuresis (bedwetting) or ...delays in cognitive, emotional and social development."
MSF quoted a reported survivor of torture who has been living on Lesbos for a year and a half. "There is no difference between the old Moria and Kara Tepe camp," the Syrian man is quoted as saying. "The procedures are the same. It is the same system... As a sick person, I feel I am going from bad to worse day by day."
They also quoted a young Afghan mother, who they said has been living on Lesbos for two years. "Until now, my two-year-old daughter has never been to a park. We have problems with getting permission to get outside of the camp," the woman reportedly told MSF. "My little girl tends to have aggressive behaviours because of what she has witnessed here. She doesn’t like to play, to laugh, to speak or play with dolls."
New Aegean camps: 'Similar to prison'
Greece is currently building several new reception facilities on the Aegean islands, which the government has said will offer more dignified living conditions but also be "closed and controlled," which has drawn criticism from NGOs like MSF.
In their press release, the organization called the plans to build new "prison-like" camps "hideous."
"The EU and Greece are inaugurating a new prison like-centre to trap refugees on Samos island," said Konstantinos Psykakos, MSF head of mission in Greece. "This is the best demonstration of the cruelty of the EU's migration policies," he added.
The new site on the island of Samos is set to open in Mid-September. It's the first of five centers that scheduled to open and replace existing camps. Sites on Leros and Kos are will reportedly open by the end of this year, and new facilities on Lesbos and Chios are expected to open next year.
MSF is not the only NGO to criticize the situation for migrants and refugees on the Greek islands on the first anniversary of the Moria fire -- Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees released a briefing on Wednesday, saying that living conditions remain highly substandard.