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"Europe is Breaking Them" - An Analysis of European NGOs' Narrative on the Mental Health of Migrants on the Greek Islands from 2015 until 2023


  • Angela Wester

Summary, in English

This research is framed by the tension between human security and border security
which pervades the debate on migration and asylum policies in the European Union. The perspective of three prominent NGOs in this discussion is studied in the present thesis. Its particular object of research are the migration camps on the Greek islands which were established following a series of EU decisions. The paper will focus specifically on the conditions influencing the mental health of the migrants who live in these structures. Thereby, this thesis researches the narrative produced by three NGOs on the mental health of migrants in migration camps on the Greek islands. It covers the time frame of October 2015 until June 2023. The three NGOs, that this work analyses, are Human Rights Watch, Médécins Sans Frontières, and Amnesty International. The thesis reveals that those organizations make sense of the mental health conditions of migrants in the migrant camps on the Greek islands by attributing them to the challenging life situation they find themselves in. That is the flight from a conflict zone aggravated by the strenuous journey towards safety in Europe. The narrative further links the mental health situation in the camps to European Union policies which set the living conditions of the migrants on the Greek islands. In addition, the narrative portrays the migrants as being powerlessly at the mercy of the authorities’ conduct and policies. Thereby, the authorities become uncaring entities, responsible for the migrants’ poor mental health via the repercussions of their inappropriate policies. Thereafter, the NGOs themselves are, according to their narrative, the voice that is direly needed to support the migrants.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • NGOs
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Médécins Sans Frontières
  • Amnesty International
  • mental health
  • migration and refugees
  • camps
  • European Union
  • border security
  • human security
  • European Studies


  • Tomas Sniegon