Deteriorating conditions facing torture survivors on Lesbos

A new report published by Médicins Sans Frontières has identified an urgent deterioration in the care available for vulnerable refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, with particular issues facing asylum seekers who have experienced torture or violence.

The report indicates that 80% of refugees assessed by MSF’s medical teams displayed mental health needs severe enough to require ongoing care, of whom two thirds had experienced violence, and over 20% had experienced torture. Despite this, fewer than 1 in 3 torture survivors had previously been identified as vulnerable by the authorities, denying them access to essential support, against a backdrop of diminishing capacity amongst human rights actors, a breakdown in the assessment of refugees’ needs, and steeply declining living conditions.

Freedom from Torture has previously raised concerns with the UK Government’s Public Accounts Committee that 55% of vulnerable refugees dealt with under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme have experienced violence or torture.

Freedom from Torture’s CEO Susan Munroe said:

"This report from Medecins Sans Frontieres makes for grim and sober reading: it is clear that the situation facing vulnerable asylum seekers on Lesbos is increasingly precarious, and that urgent action is needed.

Although the torture survivors are in Greece, there is a humanitarian imperative for all states which are party to the UN Convention against Torture, including the UK, to ensure survivors can access the rehabilitation and specialist care they need.

As a state which has been at the forefront of torture rehabilitation, and a party to the UN Convention against Torture, the UK is well-placed to be able to provide redress and support to these survivors; it is vital that we do everything we can to help."