Raul Manarte is a psychologist. It was one of those who were there that night. He arrived last week as a volunteer. “In the past five days I have seen six people who had been stabbed.” It is the second time that Raul has been at the Reception and Identification Center of Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos. “Today everything is more violent. I attend many more people who are victims of violence. The environment is much more tense and at any stimulus people shoot. They react. ”
They bring the traumas of the past, the brutality of the crossing they made until they reached Europe. “They are people with a very present traumatic condition, they have sleep disorders – they haven’t slept in a long time -, they feel insecure. There is competition in the lines of food, in the use of the bathroom. ”And any reason becomes a reason for confrontation, whether on or off the field. “Because someone bumps you, because they want to steal your cell phone charger, because your asylum application has been refused. Or simply because you drank, because alcohol relieves and while you drink, in that initial moment, you forget, but then you encourage more aggressive behavior ”, explains Raul. “Here is a melting pot of circumstances that predispose to violence.”
Mothers are so tired and irritable that they have become afraid to take care of their children. “Some women totally hand them over to their husbands, they can’t take it anymore. They show up at the clinic worried about them and the way they treat their children, they become aggressive quickly and attack their children. This is a symptom of such hyperreaction. ”
Raul has already attended those who tried to kill themselves, those who bring back memories of the past and those who live with constant flashbacks, those who have experienced torture and violence. “They have very intense and disruptive depressive and traumatic symptoms. Show me the fingers amputated by Daesh, tell me how they saw family members being beheaded in Afghanistan. ”
It was on one of the first nights in Moria that the boy kicked the door of the clinic where Raul is a volunteer. After him more appeared. A pair of young people clashed, one of them ended up stabbed, went to ask for medical care. One was stabilized immediately, the other is still in intensive care, at risk of life. Almost every night someone comes with cuts.
“Working here costs humanity itself because we have to do things that we would not ethically do in Portugal, things for which we would be reprimanded. For example: I have a completely destabilized teenager who has just learned that his brothers died, with suicidal intent and that he has an acute reaction to stress. And we have to take him by the arms and take him back to the field. He cannot stay in the clinic to occupy space, we have to prioritize the injured person who will appear next and who may die ”, says Raul.
Resources have not changed, people have tripled
If we go up to the highest point of the field, we see “tents as far as your eyes can reach”. The number of people registered in Moria reached almost 20,000 last month. According to data to which Expresso had access, on January 15 the total population of the camp was 19,184 people: almost as many children as men and the majority families (63%) and almost all from Afghanistan (76%). There are 1,049 unaccompanied minors.
When the Express visited Moria almost eight thousand people were housed there. And at the end of 2018 the number far exceeded the three thousand initially defined by the responsible entities as the maximum capacity of what was a former military base of the Greek army.
Since the beginning of this week, people registered in Moria have protested. They complain about the lack of conditions. They went to the center of Mytilene, the main city on the island, and shouted for “freedom”. Men, women and children. About two thousand people occupied roads, marched and made themselves heard. Police intervention was necessary, describe the international agencies. He charged Protestants – including children – and released tear gas (although their use has not been confirmed by the authorities).
“We used to do the screening outside the clinic in the middle of the afternoon, the Protestants entered the sauce in the field, started to climb the ramp and occupy the space, people got into a big mess for the clinic”, describes Raul. “We couldn’t close the doors because we had a doctor outside, people were in a panic trying to protect themselves from the confusion. There was a moment when I thought that we might not be able to leave. There were so many people coming in… ”After a few hours, the protesters went back down, but this time the medical staff closed the clinic in time. “Things calmed down, but then the riot started with the riot police, who ordered us to leave the clinic. We were told to leave because there would be problems and I have seen clashes between the applicants and the police several times, ”he says without elaborating.
The construction of a floating barrier in the Aegean to prevent the arrival of more boats to Lesbos is not a topic that Raul talks about with migrants. “The volunteers are already talking about this, but I don’t speak to my patients about it.” Last week, the Greek government announced the construction of a 2.7 kilometer-long wall in water. “We want to see if it works and if it is possible to implement it [em mais ilhas]”, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greece’s defense minister, said in an interview with Skai, the state station.
The project is still in its initial phase and has an estimated investment of 500 thousand euros, according to the Greek press. Another objective of the authorities is to move another 1,200 policemen to the border over the next few months: 400 to the land border between Greece and Turkey, and another 800 to the islands.
Raul Manarte sees in this decision an “attempt to dissuade people from coming to Europe illegally”, as is “reducing search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean” and “financing Libya’s coast guard”.
“There are international guidelines for refugee camps, there is European legislation for shelter conditions while people are waiting for asylum applications and none of this is being fulfilled in Moria. I participated in other missions, I volunteered in other countries, but I have never seen anything like this ”, says Raul Manarte. “Moria is horrible and you never leave here.” Even when you leave.