The staggering influx of refugees presents unique challenges to host nations; the factor driving the global refugee crisis of the modern refugee experience is unprecedented psychological trauma. For example, before they escape their country, the typical Syrian refugee’s experience is marked by: aerial bombardment; confinement in subhuman conditions and torture for long periods of time, including electrocution; rape and sexual violence; public humiliations; brutal violence and executions of family, neighbors, and loved ones; kidnappings or disappearances; and forced service in paramilitary factions. Resettling asylum seekers focuses on language education and skills training and overlooks how trauma is integral to forced displacement. For Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani resettled families in Germany today, what are the residual psychological effects of forced-migration and trauma for their identity and integration?
It illustrates the impact of trauma on identity and efforts to integrate of the family of a thirteen-year old Tommy who received the bullet-ridden body of his sixteen year old uncle he regarded as father; it follows his family’s flight from Syria to resettlement in Bonn as he battles post-traumatic stress disorder. Supplementing it, are quantitative results of depression and hopelessness of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani refugees in Germany, and research findings from long-term resettlements cross-cultural studies of refugees. While much public focus has been on integration, we seek to deepen our understanding of integration through looking at the lives of new arrivals and psychological barriers to integration. Managing the fraught situation of post-traumatic stress disorder for integration is of paramount importance for refugee families seeking better lives but also for European host nations and their stability.
Talk presented by Dr. Shaifali Sandhya at The University of Bonn on February 1st, 2018