The impact of detention practice on migrants’ health and wellbeing: the experience of Médecins Sans Frontières in Greece. MSF and migration.
MSF intervention in Greece
2008- up to now
1,809 patients – 32 referrals to secondary care
In addition 75 patients received psychological support in 122 individual mental health sessions – 11 referrals to psychiatric care
Patients: 89% male of whom 5.9% minors, 11% female
Main countries of origin: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq Pakistan, Baglandesh Somalia, Northern Africa
“The main problem is the increased risk for communicable diseases in the detention centers, mainly linked to severe overcrowding, lack of hygiene, lack of basic supplies (e.g. blankets, shoes, soap, etc.), lack of the possibility for outdoor activities and the long duration of detention. The conditions in the centers are below the internationally accepted minimum standards in all visited detention centers. It is well documented that overcrowding increases the risk for communicable diseases spread, such as tuberculosis, diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, etc” European Center for Disease Control, 2011.
305 patients seen in 381 individual consultations.
79 group sessions and 258 play therapy sessions.
Patients: 89% male of whom 12% minors, 11% female
Main countries of origin: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine, Baglandesh.
39% of patients presented symptoms of anxiety such as constant worry, fear, panic, restlessness.
31% of patients presented symptoms of depression, such as sadness, loss of interest, hopelessness, and thoughts of death.
17.3% of patients sought psychological support due to the previous experience of traumatic events -PTSD was diagnosed in 9.5% of all patients.
Detention exacerbated existing symptoms, hindered the healing process and contributed to psychological distress.
3.2% of patients had attempted suicide or self-harm during the period of their detention.
“ detention centers I have never been in detention before. I feel very insecure and frightened”
“I am constantly crying. I feel very worried about how long I will have to stay here. Being in detention makes me feel desperate.”
“a similar situation to varying degrees of gravity [is described]: overcrowding, dirt, lack of space, lack of ventilation, little or no possibility of taking a walk, no place to relax, insufficient mattresses, dirty mattresses, no free access to toilets, inadequate sanitary facilities, no privacy, limited access to care”. European Court for Human Rights, 2011
In accordance to Greek legislations irregular migrants are only entitled to access the NHS in cases of life-threatening emergencies and need to cover incurred costs.
Poros registration center (since March 2012): Medical care to newly arriving migrants (triage, first aid).
Filakio and Venna detention centers and border police stations: humanitarian assistance (eg. personal hygiene items) to migrants/asylum seekers in detention.
Ioanna Kotsioni, Migration Referent, detention centers Médecins Sans Frontières, Athens