Children trapped in Greek Island camps attempting suicide and self-harm

September, 2018

Medical teams working with asylum seekers on Greek islands are seeing multiple cases each week of minors who have attempted suicide or otherwise harmed themselves, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, calling for the immediate evacuation of vulnerable people, especially children, to the Greek mainland or within the European Union. 

More than 9,000 people—a third of whom are children—are stuck indefinitely on the island of Lesbos in Moria camp, which has a maximum capacity of 3,100 people.

There have been numerous critical incidents highlighting significant gaps in the protection of children and other vulnerable people, MSF said.

These include patients who have experienced violence, children who have harmed themselves, and people who lack access to urgently needed medical care.

MSF provides mental health care and other medical services to camp residents.  

"These children come from countries in war, where they have experienced very extreme violence and trauma," said Dr. Declan Barry, MSF's medical coordinator in Greece. 

From February to June, in a group mental health activity for children from 6 to 18 years old, MSF teams observed that nearly a quarter of the children (18 out of 74) had harmed themselves, attempted suicide, or had thought about committing suicide. Other child patients suffer from elective mutism, panic attacks, anxiety, aggressive outbursts, and constant nightmares.

Source: Doctorswithoutborders