Concerns are rising about conditions at reception centers for migrants on the islands of the eastern Aegean amid delays in much-needed infrastructure upgrades and increasingly cramped conditions, with reports of a spike in cases of mental health problems.
Last summer, authorities completed a feasibility study for an upgrade of the drainage and sewerage systems at Moria, the main reception center on Lesvos. But the plan appears to have become mired in bureaucracy. Originally designed to house 1,000 migrants, the camp at Moria is currently hosting nearly seven times that number.
The overcrowded and dirty conditions, and the uncertainty, are taking their toll on the mental health of many camp residents, Gavriil Sakellaridis, the head of Amnesty International’s Greek chapter, said on Wednesday. Following a visit to camps on Lesvos and Chios, Sakellaridis expressed concern at the large number of migrants suffering from depression and called for the transfer of asylum seekers to the mainland.
“The living conditions of asylum seekers at Moria and Vial [on Chios] are an open wound for Greece and Europe and for human rights,” Sakellaridis said.
“The lives of those people have been put on hold for a period of up to two years in some cases and as a result the cases of despair and mental distress are growing,” he said.