Report: self-harm on the rise in Greek refugee camps

International (MNN) — Turkey’s EU agreement brought the passage of refugees through Greece to a near halt. But it also stranded thousands of refugees on islands just off the mainland. It’s here where relief agencies are noting disturbing trends. Not only has movement stopped, but so has the healthy growth and development of children and young adults.

According to Relief Web, a new report is showing a growing trend of depression among children as young as nine-years-old. The result is higher rates of self-harm and suicide. The conditions of the camps when it comes to resources, activities, and safety are so terrible that these children are in major danger of long-term psychological damage.

(Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)

Tent Schools International has been helping to provide education in various refugee camps around the world. Education is recognized as a major prevention factor when it comes to radicalization, as well as a stepping stone out of poverty. But Dale Dieleman of Tent Schools says, according to their contacts in various camps, kids across the board are feeling hopeless. Education minus hope is not enough.

“They’ve noticed a pattern. When they get to be around 14, 15, they kind of drop out. They work within the camps, they work for their parents or they hustle in some way, if you will, but they’ve really become disconnected with the educational process, mainly because they don’t see any future.”

Education is an important step to change the future, but hope is necessary, too. (Photo courtesy of Tent Schools International)

Dieleman says young adults who once had dreams and great potential for the future now see few choices at making their lives any better.

“I recently reviewed a story that was an investigative report showing that more 90 percent of older youth and young adults, you might say college age, have absolutely nothing to do in these camps.”

Tent Schools International has been working to tackle these issues in a number of ways. First, the education they provide both in-person and via media outlets is Christ-centered. The Gospel brings hope to hurting people in a way that nothing else can.

They also have skilled teachers who are trained to deal with PTSD.

And finally, working alongside multiple organizations and partners, Tent Schools hopes to provide new job avenues and training that can open the doors of the future for people living in camps. Check out our story from last week about the group of men they are hoping to provide with computer training.

If you’d like to support the work going on in these camps, click here.

And, will you pray? Ask God to help us see these people as He does — with compassion. Pray that in these camps the Gospel will bring new life, renewed joy, and peace.