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IRC: Mental illness affects 1 out of 3 asylum seekers trapped in Greek islands

December 19, 2020 at 10:32 am

Migrants at the border line between Turkey and Greece, in Edirne, Turkey on 4 March 2020 [Hakan Mehmet Şahin/Anadolu Agency]

A new report issued by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) shows how European Union (EU) migration policies have led to a mental health crisis among thousands of asylum seekers trapped in the Greek islands.

The committee stressed that the causes of this mental health crisis are clear. Five years after the creation of reception centres such as the Moria camp in Lesbos, around 15,000 people are still trapped in Greece under inhumane and often dangerous living conditions, lacking water, sanitation, shelter, and vital services such as healthcare, education or legal aid.

New data published by the IRC Mental Health Programme on the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios confirmed the alarming number of people suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression since 2018. It noted that one out of three people had been contemplating suicide and one out of five had attempted to commit suicide, either before arriving in Greece or during their stay on the islands.

The committee disclosed that since the emergence of the coronavirus and following the first lockdown in March, the rescue committee had witnessed a 71 per cent increase in the number of people suffering from psychological distress, while the proportion of people considering self-harm had risen to 66 per cent.