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Lesvos: a mental health crisis among asylum seekers, mainly young children


A mental health crisis among asylum seekers in the former Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos is worsening. In the new “Kara Tepe” tent, even more young children are receiving psychiatric treatment including medication to cope with ongoing trauma. Before burning to the ground, the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos was described as “hell on earth”. The terrible conditions and overcrowding in the migrant camp have led to daily incidents of violence, abuse and suicide attempts even among children.

According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) which provides mental health support to refugees from Lesbos, between December 2019 and August 2020, more than 40% of the migrants they counseled in Moria had thoughts of suicide and a quarter had in fact attempted suicide.

On the night of September 8, 2020, the camp was destroyed. For thousands of asylum seekers, the fire was a traumatic experience, but it gave them hope that they would never have to suffer again in such conditions. However, the worst was yet to come. In the days following the disaster, they slept in the streets and suffered violence and intimidation from anti-migrant groups as well as the Greek police before being transferred to a new tented camp without showers, without areas isolated from the cold and, it turned out, prone to major flooding.

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