ATHENS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- A year after the launch of an EU-Turkey deal to stem the migrant flow into Europe, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) asked EU member states to change their approach to the crisis, pointing to the impact on the health of asylum seekers.
MSF psychologists in Lesvos island saw a two-and-a-half-fold increase in the percentage of patients with symptoms of anxiety and depression, and a threefold increase in the percentage of patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to an e-mailed report on Wednesday.
"Symptoms of psychosis also increased, all of which coincides with our teams seeing more patients with severe trauma, and more cases of self-harm and suicide attempts," according to the NGO's document.
Through the nearly 300 mental health consultations MSF teams conducted in Samos island, they have seen a similar deterioration and an escalation in self-harm and suicide attempts in recent months.
In 2016, MSF medical teams in 20 locations across Greece carried out 72,740 health consultations.
The EU-Turkey agreement was signed on March 18, 2016, and came into effect two days later. The goal of the deal is to put an end to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants paying smugglers to cross from Turkey to Greece by returning the majority to Turkey.
A year later, according to official figures, arrivals to Greece have been dramatically reduced to a few dozen per day on average compared to the more than one million people who landed on the Greek shores in a year until the launch of the agreement.
However, the deal has a direct impact on the health of thousands of people stranded in Greece in poor living conditions after the closure of the Balkan route to central Europe, according to MSF.
"These people have fled extreme violence, torture and war and survived extremely dangerous journeys. Today, their anxiety and depression is aggravated by the lack of information on their legal status and their poor living conditions," explained Jayne Grimes, MSF psychologist in Samos island.
"They are losing any hope that they will find a safer, better future than the one they fled," Grimes added.
Since the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, at least 140 people have lost their lives along the Balkan route, either by drowning in the Aegean Sea, freezing to death at the land borders of Serbia and Bulgaria, according to the MSF report.
In protest to the EU-Turkey deal, the NGO suspended all funds from the EU and its member states last year.
MSF calls for a "humane solution to end death and suffering at Europe' s borders, on both land and sea."