One year after the EU-Turkey Deal, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) released a report to expose the human costs of European policy failures in Greece and the Balkans. MSF calls on the EU and member state leaders to radically change their approach to migration and ensure a swift end to the unnecessary suffering of the thousands caught in the consequences of the EU-Turkey deal.
The European Council stated that the deal, which rewards Turkey for “stemming the flow” of migrants and refugees and accepting those forcibly returned from Greek shores, would offer migrants “an alternative to putting their lives at risk”. One year after, men, women and children are trapped in unsafe zones outside Europe, unable to flee, forced to use even more dangerous smuggling routes to reach Europe, or they are trapped in overcrowded “hotspots” on the Greek islands.
“The deal is having a direct impact on the health of our patients, and many are becoming more vulnerable,” says Jayne Grimes, MSF psychologist in Samos. “These people have fled extreme violence, torture and war and survived extremely dangerous journeys. Today, their anxiety and depression is aggravated by the lack of information on their legal status and their poor living conditions. They are losing any hope that they will find a safer, better future than the one they fled. I often see people who contemplate suicide or self-mutilate.”
According to the report “One Year on From the EU-Turkey Deal: Challenging the EU’s Alternative Facts”, MSF psychologists in Lesvos saw the percentage of patients with anxiety and depression increase by two and a half and the percentage of those with post-traumatic stress disorder increase threefold. Symptoms of psychosis also increased.
This all coincides with our teams seeing more patients with severe trauma, and more cases of self-harm and suicide attempts. Through the nearly 300 mental health consultations MSF teams in Samos have conducted, they have seen a similar deterioration and an escalation in self-harm and suicide attempts in recent months.