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Therapeutic services for people from refugee backgrounds

Prevalence of mental health difficulties and effectiveness of services

Current reports and academic research consistently portrays people from refugee backgrounds as vulnerable and in need of Western-based mental health services, but the reality is more complex than this. We need a more nuanced approach to service provision that involves collaboration with refugee communities to identify needs, instead of an ongoing and often singular focus on addressing individualized trauma.

“The current figures for people forcibly displaced by persecution and conflict are simply staggering. In 2017 over 68 million people had been forcibly displaced with the largest contributors being Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan.” (Community-based mental health and wellbeing support for refugees, 2018.)

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Map
Source: Pixabay

Mainstream media suggests large refugee flows from South America to North America at this time. However, the figures presented are just a fraction of the flow of people in more impoverished countries who are host to very large numbers of displaced people including Turkey, Lebanon, and countries in Africa and Asia.

A number of countries participate in the UNHCR resettlement program with Australia being one of the top five countries offering permanent resettlement. Australia has a current humanitarian intake of over 13,000 people annually, and that figure is due to increase significantly. At the same time, there is continuing conflict in addressing the resettlement needs of people who enter Australia through a formal humanitarian entry program, and the arrival of asylum seekers – particularly those who have arrived by boat. We need high-quality research to explore the degree to which support services support mental health and wellbeing for people from refugee backgrounds, resettled in high-income countries. Such services may be provided at various levels from the individual, family, community, and larger contextual -based services.

READ  UNHCR releases supplementary COVID-19 appeal to meet exceptional refugee needs in 2021

High-income countries seek to support both the material and psychosocial needs of people arriving from refugee backgrounds. A recent Sax Institute Report explored the effectiveness of community-based psychosocial programs oriented towards the needs of people from both refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. The report’s essential question pertained to the effectiveness of such programs in improving mental health and wellbeing. The review identified just 41 papers published between 2010 and 2018 addressing the mental health issues of this cohort. Interventions were categorized in terms of trauma-informed psychotherapy programs delivered with a group component: community-based psychoeducation or health programs; physical activity or sport-based programs; and peer support and/or mentoring programs.

In assessing these programs, the review identified significant gaps in the evidence with very few high-quality studies able to address the key question as to the effectiveness of the programs. Difficulties with the evidence included: a lack of quality evaluations; limited outcome measures; limited description of interventions; and lack of consideration of the sub-groups within targeted populations.

In a large review study involving 7,000 people from refugee backgrounds, it was reported that 9% of people suffered from Post-Traumatic StressDisorder. Surveys of children from refugee backgrounds revealed that 11% had presentations consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Comparative figures from the 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reveals that the overall prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in an adult general population was 1.5% but increased to 3.8% of women and 2.0% of men who reported having experienced trauma. The purpose of these figures is to reveal that humans are resilient, and dealing with adversity may contribute to, but does not necessarily result in trauma symptoms.

In our research with youth from refugee backgrounds, we also reported on difficulties experienced by this group. In our sample of 79 youth aged between 11 and 18 years, 14 percent were assessed as exhibiting anxietysymptoms, and 18 percent exhibited depressive symptoms. That is, the overwhelming majority of children did not evidence mental health difficulties.

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Three Girls
Source: Pixabay

Such research is at odds with common representations of, and responses to, the needs of people from refugee backgrounds. We agree with the recent Sax Institute Report that service providers would benefit from closer collaboration with researchers and engage in high-quality research that leads to improved community wellbeing. Such research may involve local communities in determining their needs and identifying those issues which emerge as most salient in fostering social inclusion and connection.

READ  Dutch govt knew about Vietnamese children disappearing from asylum centers for years- Report

Current world events are highly significant in terms of forced displacementand the human consequences of such displacement. The impacts are of course profound, but it is also important to consider the degree to which subgroups of people are resilient and thrive in new communities. This is not to detract from the suffering associated with migration, but to also advocate for strengths-based approaches aimed at fostering wellbeing and social inclusivity in the context of mass migration.

Culled from Psychology Today

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Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers

 

The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.

Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.

The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.

He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.

He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.

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“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.

“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.

“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.

“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.

“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”

The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.

READ  Human traffickers in brutal exploits (1)

He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.

He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.

“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.

“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.

“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.

“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.

“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.

READ  Without safe migration, economic recovery will be limited

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JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.

The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.

The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.

READ  UNHCR releases supplementary COVID-19 appeal to meet exceptional refugee needs in 2021

“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.

“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.

“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.

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“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.

“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.

“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.

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IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh

 

IOM, Rohingya volunteers and partners are working relentlessly to assist those affected by this week’s heavy rains in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.

IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.

The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.

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Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.

Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).

“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.

One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.

READ  Dutch govt knew about Vietnamese children disappearing from asylum centers for years- Report

Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.

IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.

Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.

The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.

Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.

READ  Bosnian police tussle with migrants protesting over camp conditions

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