Government figures show more than 14,500 people are living in five camps on the Greek islands, many waiting months for the completion of a sluggish asylum request process.
Aid organizations said that the mental health of migrants is deteriorating, with overcrowding, violence, abuse, idleness, a lack of sanitary conditions, and fear over an unknown future contributing to their suffering.
“Certainly in the last two months there has been a significant increase in people talking about suicide as a way to escape from this situation,” said Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mental health activity manager on Samos Jayne Grimes.
“People have developed extremely severe anxiety disorders, stress, problem on behaviors,” she added.
On Samos island, some 2,500 migrants and refugees are crammed into a government camp that is made for only 700. Muhammad Ahlum, a Syrian refugee with two children, said he and his wife suffer from depression and see a psychiatrist to cope,” said Clement Perrin, head of mission for MSF in Greece.
“Even my children now are in a bad state. They don’t eat the food in the camp. They get really scared when there is noise or problems in the camp. Sometimes, they can’t sleep at night. Sometimes, they wake up screaming and crying,” said Muhammad Ahlum, a refugee from Aleppo, Syria.
Muahab Ashaad, who is from Syria, said that he regrets his decision to leave his hometown.
“If we knew it would be like this, we would have stayed under the bombing,” said Ashaad.
On Monday, 19 organizations sent a letter to Greece’s prime minister urging him to move asylum seekers out of the camps to the mainland.
According to Human Rights Watch, the government has begun the movement of refugees to camps are in a better state and there are also apartments and other accommodation available, but the group said it is not enough. — Reuters