The NPO Save the Children has released statements on Thursday saying that the conditions under which the children in migrant reception centers in Greece are living is driving them to self-inflicting harm on themselves and using drugs to cope with the “endless misery” of their lives.
According to Reuters, which received an advanced copy of a report documenting findings about migrant children living in the camps as the first year of the EU-Turkey deal in place concludes, suicide attempts have increased drastically among the youth.
“Their mental health is rapidly deteriorating due to the conditions created as a result of this deal,” the report said, adding that “One of the most shocking and appalling developments Save the Children staff have witnessed is the increase in suicide attempts and self-harm amongst children as young as nine.”
The EU-Turkey deal was put in place in order to curb the influx of migrants attempting to enter the EU via the Turkey-Greece route, as under the deal, migrants can be returned to Turkey if their asylum request is rejected in Greece. However, on Wednesday the NPO Human Rights Watch (HRW) made statements criticizing the EU-Turkey deal, blaming it for the entrapment of migrants on the Greek Aegean islands known as “hotspots,” saying “The EU-Turkey deal has trapped thousands of people in abysmal conditions on the Greek islands for the past year, while denying most access to asylum procedures and refugee protection.”
To date the EU-Turkey deal has backlogged several cases and as a result there are over 14,000 refugees stranded in the hotspots on the Aegean islands, living under conditions that are “detention-like” and “degrading,” Save the Children states. These conditions are exactly what has led children to turn to drugs and hurting themselves.
“The conditions are turning children from young people who are calm and full of dreams to people who want to harm property, others and themselves,” another Praksis member was quoted as saying, according to Reuters. “They say that they feel bad, then someone offers them a pill and promises it will make them feel better, and then it does and they start taking drugs,” The report stated.