Doctors Without Borders (MSF) revealed on Wednesday that 456 children in the migrant camp of Lesvos had to be treated for mental health problems between 2019 and 2020, including 32 unaccompanied minors.
These children displayed trauma and fear-induced symptoms, often triggered by their lives in the hotspot, MSF said in a report titled “Constructing crisis at Europe’s borders.”
The NGO said the main symptoms included: sleep disturbance and nightmares (39%), generalised fear (24%), behavioural regression and development delays (30%), helplessness and detachment (25 %), and psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches, stomach aches and dizziness (10%).
There were also “alarming” high rates of self-harm and suicidal acts among children, the report continued.
Out of the 180 MSF patients who had experienced self-harm, suicidal ideation or had attempted suicide, more than two thirds were children, the youngest of which was a six-year-old child. Among the 32 unaccompanied children treated in the paediatric clinic, 20 per cent had engaged in self-harming behaviour and 15 per cent had experienced suicidal ideation.
MSF staff observed that “the significant rates of suicidal thoughts and self-harming as an unfortunate consequence of an unsafe
environment, extended limbo and uncertainty.”
In total, MSF mental health projects on Chios, Lesvos and Samos treated 1,369 patients between 2019 and 2020.