Reports of sexual assault have spiked in recent months at the Moria migrant and refugee processing center on the Greek island of Lesvos, as well as at the so-called “olive grove,” a makeshift overflow camp on the fringes of the facility, Newsweek quoted a representative of Medecins Sans Frontieres as saying.
According to the Newsweek report published on Saturday, MSF's medical coordinator for Greece, Dr Declan Barry, said that the humanitarian group alone has received reports of 21 cases of rape and sexual assault since May, with almost half the victims being girls and boys under the age of 18 and at least two being children aged as young as 5 years old.
“One case is not acceptable, let alone one a week. And I’m sure it’s happening a lot more frequently than that,” Barry told Newsweek.
“We need to acknowledge that this is a systemic failure,” he said.
NGOs active at the camp have been warning of a rise in depression, self-harm and suicidal tendencies among residents at the woefully overcrowded facility, where some 8,500 people are crammed into a space designed for about 3,000, and around half the population consists of women and children.
They also point to a serious lack of security that leaves the powerless vulnerable to assault and abuse.
“There is a huge level of suffering in Moria,” Barry told Newsweek. “And the fact that this suffering and this violence is happening because of a European policy, well, there is no way of finding acceptance in that at all,” he added, referring to the deal between Brussels and Ankara that has resulted in thousands of asylum-seekers becoming trapped in Greece.