A cry of despair from refugees in Greece – «My hope has died since I was brought here»

The “encapsulation” of asylum seekers in concentration camps and detention centres in the Greek islands due to the European Union’s mandate to limit their turnout to other countries leads to rising suicide rates and self-injuries, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warns.
“The psychological impact of years of conflict, exacerbated by the harsh conditions in the Greek islands and the uncertainty of inhumane policies, may not be as visible as natural wounds, but it is not less life-threatening,” said Emina Ćerimović, Member of the HRW team.
Dozens of asylum seekers, including children, reported increasing stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses, as they are waiting months under “wretched conditions” to be transported elsewhere.
The EU is pushing Greece to speed up asylum and deportation decisions in Turkey, where 1,200 people were returned under the EU-Turkey agreement that came into force in March 2016 and June. HRW called on Greece to end immigration restriction policies on its islands and asked to be transferred to the mainland where their children can enrol in school and adults can work.
HRW warned that lengthy procedures aggravate the despair of refugees. In many cases, the lack of competent interpreters in asylum interviews creates “serious gaps” in access to information and legal aid with authorities prioritizing migrants according to nationality.
“My hope is dead since I was brought here,” said Rabiha Hadji at HRW. “We experienced terrible misery in Syria, but my children and I have never seen a prison [until they come to Greece],” says a Syrian woman of four children.
Amir, a 26-year-old Iranian asylum seeker detained in Lesvos since April, said the conditions in Moria are constantly reminding him of the jail in Iran. “I see the fences and I remember my past”, he said. “In the first week I was here, I could not sleep all week… I had nightmares from the torture that I have spent in the military prison“.
Poor conditions in the camps pose a special risk to former prisoners and victims of torture. For people who have experienced extreme violence in their country of origin, an environment surrounded by wire mesh, the presence of police and violent clashes is clearly not an appropriate place.