September 2018: An asylum seeker passing by the makeshift tents in Olive Grove, an informal extension of camp Moria, Lesvos, Greece.
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Moria camp, in Lesbos, has a maximum capacity of 3,100 people, but is bursting at the seams, with over 9,000 people. A third of them are children, living in appalling conditions, which are contributing to a considerable deterioration of their physical and mental health.
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A group of Afghani children playing in the hills surrounding Camp Moria, Lesvos, Greece.
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“Empty space usually used for mental health consultation: usually full of emotions, sadness, grief and despair... It's very common people are more comfortable speaking there instead of indoor." Giovanna Bonvini , Mental Health activity manager, MSF Greece
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- A group of young "single men" resting after lunch just outside their tent in Olive Grove, Lesvos, Greece, September 2018.
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MSF has been working outside of Moria camp focusing on paediatric care, mental health for minors, and sexual and reproductive health since late 2017. MSF also runs a mental health clinic in Mytilene since October 2016. They have also provided few sources of drinkable water, installed bathrooms, showers and solar panels for generating electricity.
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Many of the people in the camp, usually spend their time in the city, often going fishing: it's a way to spend time and to avoid the food line awaiting.
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Namatullah shows a selfie he took while waiting in the food line, Moria camp, Lesvos, Greece. People can wait also for ten hours there, and it's a pretty common place for fights as people get exasperated.
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The food line in Moria camp, Lesvos, Greece, September 2018. “I have never witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions, as I am witnessing now amongst refugees on the island of Lesbos." MSF clinical psychiatrist Dr. Alessandro Barberio, having a break, Lesbos, Greece
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In the past four weeks, we have received an increase in the number of minors suffering from intense panic attacks, suicidal ideations and suicide attempts." Dr. Alessandro Barberio, MSF psychiatrist at Mytilene Clinic
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"Two years ago, the European Union and its member States decided to historically fail thousands of people and to compromise the very concept of asylum by agreeing to return to Turkey asylum seekers seeking safety in Europe. Since then, an endless stream of misery and desperation from the thousands of men, women and children who continue to arrive on Greek shores and are trapped on the Greek islands. It’s them who pay the real cost of this dirty deal: it seems deliberately intended to produce suffering for those who cross the sea, with the idea that this will deter others from undertaking the crossing. Not only is it cruel but it just doesn’t work." Louise Roland Gosselin, MSF Head of Mission Greece
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Situated on the waterfront of Epano Skala, near the Old Harbor, the statue of the Asia Minor Mother was erected to honour hardship and bravery. The statue depicts a mother holding a baby, with a young girl and boy clutching her legs, all embracing in solidarity. They represent the women and children who came from Asia Minor (Turkey) to Lesvos in 1922, in order to start a new life after the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922. So weird.
It's just another day I’ve been in Lesbo (hotspot for asylum seekers in Greece) visiting MSF activities for few weeks in September. The situation is getting worst day by day: Moria (the largest camp on the island of Lesbos and “home” to about 9000 people) once a squallid camp has now become an hell. Moria fails to meet just about every standard set by the UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). “New arrivals are crammed into inadequate sports tents, or on to farmland where lighting has not been installed, and up to 190 refugees share one filthy toilet, while new arrivals show no signs of stopping.”** Considering the outright violation of human rights and the grave medical and psychiatric needs they are facing every day, we can say that this is a state of emergency. "So far I have never witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions, the vast majority of which are presenting with psychotic symptoms, suicidal ideation/attempts and confusion, deprived of their ability to meet even their most basic everyday functions (such as sleep, nutrition, hygiene, communication etc.). This population consists of individuals who have been subjected to extreme forms of torture and violence both in their countries of origin and during transit and have thus been severely traumatized mentally and physically."*