In March 2016, the European Union signed an agreement with Turkey to reduce the number of refugees arriving in Greece and heading to other parts of Europe. Because of this, thousands of refugees and migrants are stuck in Greek refugee camps all over the country, facing huge difficulties to process their application for international protection in Europe. About 39 Migrants and refugees are continuing to land in Greek islands each day (p.7), where they end up living in very poor, “detention-like” conditions. Of the 13,200 asylum seekers on the islands, more than 5,000 are children. 

The report  “A TIDE OF SELF-HARM AND DEPRESSION: The EU-Turkey Deal’s devastating impact on child refugees and migrants” goes on to discuss the physical and psychological effects these living conditions have on children, including depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicide, increase in aggressive behavior, family breakdowns, and the negative effects of smuggling and trafficking. According to a staff of Save the Children, “Children are very resilient, but so many of their basic needs are not satisfied in the hotspots. They have lost so many months of school, of normal life and of routine”. Throughout the report’s recommendations, the organization calls upon the Ministry of Migration Policy and the Ministry of Education to  “ensure the access of all children stranded in Greece to the formal schooling system, regardless of their legal status” (p. 5). 

   Indeed, children in these “hotspots” are not growing up in areas where they can develop properly and live like any other child should. Save the Children has created Child-Friendly Spaces where all children are welcomed to go and be in a more hospitable area. However, with every other area in the camp, there is nothing normal to their living habits and conditions. One Praksis staff member stated that “Children in the hotspots are without a “normal” schedule. They don’t wake up at a certain hour, get ready, go to school. For children to develop, they need this type of predictability to feel safe. They need a routine that guides their development and emphasizes areas that need to be developed…They stay up late at night, they sleep until noon. They spend a lot of time around adults who are stressed and frustrated. This is not normal for their development” (p. 11). 

As a result, children in these environment start to become more aggressive, depressed, and turn to things like self-harm and suicide. When children only see violence and protest around them, they tend to mimic these qualities and tend to become more aggressive in order to defend themselves in such a dangerous environment. As well as this transformation of becoming more aggressive, children become more depressed. As said the report, at first children would draw colorful pictures, but the longer they spent there, they became more dark. When they are surrounded by things like dead bodies and people crying daily, it takes an emotional toll on them.

Staff members also see children turning to self-harm and suicide in order to escape reality. They start cutting themselves and imitating adults committing suicide.

According to the report, when looking at future integration for these children, it will be more difficult for them to transition back to a “normal” life. These hotspots affect some of the most important developmental periods of a child’s life and that can affect how they act for the rest of their lives. They only way children can start recovering from this, is if they are taken out of these poor conditions.