Pregnant refugee charged with arson after attempted self-immolation

Pregnant refugee charged with arson after attempted self-immolation at Lesbos camp
2 min read
28 February, 2021
The woman has been told that she must remain in Greece, where she will face trial.
Refugee camps on Lesbos have been described as overcrowded and unsafe [Getty/ Archive]
A pregnant Afghan woman has been charged with arson and destruction of public property after an attempted self-immolation at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The 26-year-old was left with severe wounds after the suicide attempt, which her lawyers and public prosecutors acknowledge was driven by desperation.

The woman, who is due to give birth next week, has been told that she will face trial and will be unable to leave Greece. 

"Although she was in a lot of pain because of her burns and found it difficult to speak, the testimony at the hospital in Mytilene lasted for around two and a half hours," her lawyer, Teresa Volakaki, told The Guardian.

"It was clear she was stressed and having difficulty remembering but the prosecutor took a very strict line and ruled she will now face criminal charges, trial and not be able to travel abroad."

According to Greek authorities, the woman was in a state of distress after being told that she would not be able to travel to Germany with other camp residents due to doctors' concerns about her pregnancy. 

A medical examination after the incident also determined that the woman was suffering from psychological problems.

"When she was told she couldn’t travel, her distress and disappointment were such she attempted suicide," Nikos Triantafyllos, an investigating magistrate told The Guardian.

"She regrets her actions very much... She has suffered burns to her hands, feet and head. She is full of remorse. She is due to give birth to her fourth child next week," he added.

Read also: Syrian, Arab refugees say 'fewer rights than animals' in migrant camps on Lesbos

The incident occurred last Sunday, when the woman placed her two children outside her tent before setting it alight in a bid to burn herself alive, according to police.

Other camp residents, police and firefighters all helped put out the blaze, a statement added.

The temporary camp on the island, which hosts 6,000 asylum-seekers, was hastily put together after fires destroyed the island's notorious Moria camp, which was the most over-populated in Europe.

Camp residents and migrant rights campaigners have denounced what they say are the deteriorating conditions at the replacement camp in the winter conditions.

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