Refugees and asylum seekers

Asylum-seekers, though not a homogeneous group, are vulnerable due to displacement, persecution, and exposure to violence. Their mental health risks increase due to extreme conditions, forced migration, personal loss, and unfamiliar environments. Stricter asylum policies can further worsen their mental well-being during the screening process.

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Definitions and basic terminology Guidelines and manuals Mental health related issues Female asylum-seekers refugees and migrants Children and underage – refugees and asylum seekers Elderly Refugees Family reunification Organisations and sites

Definitions and basic terminology

Understanding important terms and phrases related to refugees and asylum seekers is crucial in highlighting the human rights side of their experiences. This knowledge is helping us see and tackle the mental well-being challenges they face due to displacement, trauma, and violations of their rights.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UN

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees

1954UN, General Assembly resolution 429, entry into force april 1954

In this convention the UN frames the important topics how refugees are to be treated, referring to juridical status, employment, welfare and other subjects.

Refugees, Asylum Seekers & Migrants: A Crucial Dif...

What is the difference between a refugee, an asylum seeker and a migrant? Does it really matter to understand their definition? Yes, absolutely. It’s crucial today to understand what an asylum seeker or a refugee is because of all the misconceptions ...

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

Theirworld

Comprehensive information on this topic. The website also provides with the basic legal framework, agencies, as well as education and training materials by lots of quite useful links.

The Exclusion of Asylum Seekers in Europe

2004Liza Schuster, Centre of Migration, Policy and Society, Univ. of Oxford,

The article discusses mechanisms of exclusion, practiced by a number of European states, and the associated costs.

Guidelines on the Treatment of Iraqi Asylum Seekers and...

2007 ECRE

This paper (30 p.) is in response to the treatment of Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees in Europe, it discusses the background of decisions in whether asylum is granted (or not), and criticises some principles in handling this problem.

 

Guidelines and manuals

Refugees and asylum seekers experience trauma, stress and loss before, during and after fleeing their countries of origin, due to wars, conflicts, poverty among other causes. These have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.

Caring for Refugees and Survivors of Torture

Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights

Learning Objectives: *To understand the scope and magnitude of human right violations *To recognize signs and symptoms *To learn how to approach these patients *To be aware of resources available for this population

Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugee...

2011Kirmayer et al.

Systematic inquiry into patients’ migration trajectory and subsequent follow-up on culturally appropriate indicators of social, vocational and family functioning over time will allow clinicians to recognize problems in adaptation and undertake mental...

15 TED Talks on refugee resilience

UNHCR

Feel like getting inspired today? Then look no further than these TED and TEDx Talks that highlight the resilience of refugees from all around the world. These are just a handful of voices representing the ingenuity of tens of millions of displaced p...

Addressing the Special Needs of Survivors of Torture

2006Patrick O'Sullivan, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies

The aim of all of Spirasi's programmes is to address some of the unmet health and social needs of the asylum seekers arriving in Ireland and to facilitate those who are granted refugee status to integrate into Irish society. Within Spirasi, the Centr...

Building Back Better: Sustainable Mental Health Care af...

World Health Organization (WHO), 2013

This WHO report shares detailed accounts from 10 diverse emergency-affected areas, each of which built better-quality and more sustainable mental health systems despite challenging circumstances. Cases originate from countries small to large; low to ...

Camp management toolkit

2015IOM, NRC, UNHCR

The 2015 edition of the Camp Management Toolkit represents the most comprehensive guidance for those engaged in camp responses to displacement. The Toolkit provides guidelines that serve as practical support for national authorities, national and int...

Guided self-help intervention reduces refugees’ psychol...

2020WHO

Guided self-help intervention reduces refugees’ psychological distress and improves wellbeing in humanitarian crises “First randomised trial of its kind finds multimedia guided self-help intervention can be delivered rapidly to large numbers of peopl...

Guidelines for prevention and response; Sexual and gend...

UNHCR

These Guidelines offer practical advice on how to design strategies and carry out activities aimed at preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence. They also contain information on basic health, legal, security and human rights issue...

Handbook for repatriation and reintegration Activities

UNHCR, Amadou Tijan Jallow

The Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities (“the Handbook”) is a guide for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and partner staff in the field to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate repatriation and reintegration ac...

Psychology of the Refugee, the Immigrant and their Chil...

2000Binnie Kristal-Andersson, Dep. of Psychology, University of Lund, Sweden

In recent years, awareness has grown of the necessity of understanding the inner world of refugees (in particular traumatized refugees), immigrants, and their children. These groups have come in increasing numbers to Scandinavia, and otherwise confid...

Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of refugees:...

2020The Lancet Global Health

The Lancet Global Health‘s Nina Putnis speaks to Wietse Tol about his research on reducing psychological distress in female South Sudanese refugees, and the implications of this research for refugees and displaced people worldwide. Listen to th...

Supporting Refugee Family Reunification in Exile

2020Nora Sveaass and Sissel Reichelt

Family reunion in exile may be a complex and challenging experience. Refugee families are often reunited in the host countries after having lived through long periods of separation, insecurity and violence. Assisting families in the process of reunif...

 

Female asylum-seekers refugees and migrants

The circumstances faced by women and girls seeking refuge can be intricate and demanding, as they confront the heightened risks of sexual gender-based violence. The mental health consequences underscore the importance of timely support in order to recover.

UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls

UNHCR

Today, women and girls everywhere still face greater obstacles claiming and enjoying their rights than do men and boys. Displacement generally exacerbates these inequalities, as does a tendency to focus on human rights abuses in public, rather than p...

Women’s Refugee Commission

Women’s Refugee Commission

This Commission advocates for laws, policies, and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, including those seeking asylum.

Female Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in France

2009UNHCR Freedman

The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive review of the situation of female asylum-seekers and refugees in France, in order to furnish a base of information which might guide future UNHCR policies and actions in this area, and which may ser...

Gender-Based Violence against Women: Both Cause for Mig...

Migration Policy institute

Each year, countless women and children flee violence at home and take an uncertain journey in the hope of finding safety in a new country. While many escape conflict zones or generalized human-rights abuses, some also run from more intimate forms of...

Women migrants fearing rape take contraceptives before ...

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Women migrants fleeing wars, political instability and poverty are taking contraceptives in the expectation of being raped but are so desperate they still embark on the journey, a human rights group said on Wednesday.

Women in detention: a guide to gender-sensitive monitor...

2017Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)

In this paper, "Women in detention" is addressed to monitoring bodies responsible for the external scrutiny of places of deprivation of liberty. It outlines the risks faced by women deprived of their liberty of being subjected to torture and ill-trea...

Sexual Violence Against Refugee Women on the Move to an...

2017WHO European Region

The objective of this overview is to present the issue of sexual violence (SV) against refugee women and girls and to discuss countermeasures that have been suggested or initiated by the Member States of the WHO European Region and national nongovern...

I didn’t Have Anywhere to Run: Migrant Women Are ...

2016Anna-Cat Brigida,

An estimated 60 to 80 percent of female migrants from Central America are sexually assaulted on their journey—and perpetrators often act with total impunity. As thousands of Central American women weigh the risks of migrating to the US each year, the...

New Report: Women Refugees at Risk in Europe

2015Novel´s Women Initiative

The report finds that women are vulnerable a bottleneck points along the route, and even more vulnerable when they reach reception centres that do not have secure and separate sleeping areas for women. Women also experience sexual violence at alarmin...

INITIAL ASSESSMENT REPORT: Protection Risks for Women a...

2015UNCHR

For the first time since World War II, Europe is experiencing a massive movement of refugees and migrants, women, girls, men and boys of all ages, fleeing armed conflicts, mass killings, persecution and pervasive sexual and gender-based violence (SGB...

80% of Central American women and girls are raped cross...

2014IMPACT

According to a stunning Fusion investigation, 80 percent of women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey. That’s up from a previous estimate of 60 percent, according to an Amnesty International report. Throug...

What the eye does not see: a critical interpretive synt...

2015Ines Keygnaert & Aurore Guieu

In Europe, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are more vulnerable to sexual victimisation than European citizens. They face more challenges when seeking care. This literature review examines how legal and policy frameworks at national...

Hidden violence is silent rape: sexual and gender-based...

2012Ines Keygnaert

Although women, young people and refugees are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) worldwide, little evidence exists concerning SGBV against refugees in Europe. Using community-based participatory research, 223 in-depth interviews we...

Violence, Vulnerability and Migration: Trapped at the G...

2013MSF

The exact proportions of sexual violence are impossible to measure, yet MSF’s medical data reveals that it is a problem of alarming proportions. Information provided by our patients reveals the high risk of sexual violence throughout the migration pr...

Sexual Violence and Migration The hidden reality of Sub...

2010MSF

The exact proportions of sexual violence are impossible to measure, yet MSF’s medical data reveals that it is a problem of alarming proportions. Information provided by our patients reveals the high risk of sexual violence throughout the migration pr...

Women Refugees at Risk in Europe

2016The Nobel Women’s Initiative

For the first time since World War II, Europe is experiencing a massive movement of refugees and migrants, women, girls, men and boys of all ages, fleeing armed conflicts, mass killings, persecution and pervasive sexual and gender-based violence (SGB...

 

Children and underage – refugees and asylum seekers

Globally, approximately 43.3 million children have been displaced due to conflict and violence. This figure encompasses around 17.5 million child refugees and asylum seekers, along with an estimated 25.8 million children displaced within their own country as a result of violence and conflict.

Посібник для батьків біженців. Guide for refugee parent...

2018Atle Dyregrov and Magne Raundalen

У цьому посібнику автори надають поради та рекомендації, щоб допомогти батькам-біженцям забезпечити своїм дітям стабільні умови та нове відчуття безпеки. In this guide, the authors provide advice and recommendations to assist refugee parents in givin...

Manuals helping children cope with their reactions to w...

Children and War Foundation

The foundation has developed five manuals to help children cope with their reaction to war and disasters. To get access to the manuals, please contact the foundation directly.

Frequent relocations between asylum-seeker centres are ...

2013International Journal of Epidemiology, Goosen et al.

This study concludes that the risk of mental distress is greater in asylum-seeking children who have undergone a high annual relocation rate.

The Forgotten Children. National Inquiry into Children ...

2014Australian Human Rights Commission

This report gives a voice to these children. It provides compelling first-hand evidence of the impact that prolonged immigration detention is having on their mental and physical health. The evidence given by the children and their families is fully s...

Trauma, exile and mental health in young refugees

2011Montgomery

A review about the connection between trauma, exile and mental health in young refugees from the Middle East.

Seeking asylum in Denmark: refugee children’s mental he...

2005E. Montgomery, A. Foldsprang. Journal of Public Health

The aim of this study was to compare profiles of present mental health and previous exposure to violence among refugee children from the Middle East, whose asylum seeking families either did or did not obtain permission to stay in Denmark.

Stressful life experiences and mental health problems a...

2015Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Jensen et al.

The article discusses the situation of unaccompanied refugee children in Norway, and how this affects their state mental health. Recommendations on how to help better are also given.

Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children – Im...

1996UN

This report (78 p.) presents a solid, historical study on the impact of armed conflict on children. It highlightens the topics of child soldiers, refugees, as well as sexual exploitation, landmines and promoting psychological recovery and integration...

Psychology of the Refugee, the Immigrant and their Chil...

2000Binnie Kristal-Andersson, Dep. of Psychology, University of Lund, Sweden

In recent years, awareness has grown of the necessity of understanding the inner world of refugees (in particular traumatized refugees), immigrants, and their children. These groups have come in increasing numbers to Scandinavia, and otherwise confid...

Road to Recovery: Responding to children’s mental healt...

2019Save the Children

Boys and girls are bearing a disproportionate burden of modern conflict. Latest figures reveal that 142 million children are living in high intensity conflict zones1 and millions more have been forced to flee as refugees, often to unstable settings i...

The Asylum-seeking Child in Europe

2005Hans E Andersson, Henry Ascher, Ulla Björnberg, Marita Eastmond and Lotta Mellander

Children constitute an important part of asylum seekers whether they arrive With their families or alone. In 2003, there were more than 17 million refugees (43 per cent of refugees), asylum seekers and others who are of concern to the UNHCR. Of these...

Visits to Greece carried out by the European Committee ...

2003OMCT

A report prepared by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. (2016) The primary purpose of the CPT’s April and July 2016 visits to Greece was to examine the situation of refugees, asylum seek...

Training Handbook on Psychosocial Counselling for Child...

Mark J.D. Jordans, Wietse A. Tol, Bhogendra Sharma, Mark van Ommeren

Attention to psychosocial counseling as part of rehabilitation programs for vulnerable and trauma-exposed groups is relatively new in Nepal. The existence of such practices indicates a need or desire for forms of assistance that focus on psychologica...

 

Elderly Refugees

In war and humanitarian crises, the difficulties of elderly refugees often remain overlooked. The phenomenon of ageism exacerbates their already precarious situation and often find themselves marginalized, downgraded and ignored in the society.

Older persons

2023UNHCR

During times of displacement, older persons have urgent rights and needs. They can be particularly at risk of abuse and neglect during conflict or natural disasters, when a lack of mobility, diminished vision and chronic illnesses can make access to ...

Practical guidelines on psychosocial health and wellbei...

2022International Centre for Migration, Health and Development

These PRACTICAL GUIDELINES have been produced to support helpers in their work. This set of guidelines focuses on elderly people who, because of their age and associated health profiles, may be especially vulnerable to uprooting and forced displaceme...

Older refugees – Integration Handbook

2024UN

Older refugees face particular risks during displacement, and face additional barriers to access protection and assistance, including during resettlement and integration. Stakeholders involved throughout the integration process should develop a thoro...

Older persons in forced displacement- intersecting risk...

2019UNHCR

In 2017, 85% of displaced persons were hosted in developing regions5, where service systems, including services required by older persons, are already under pressure and capacity to scale up these systems is limited. Further, forcibly displaced older...

Facilitator’s Guide: Working with older persons i...

2023UNHCR

To strengthen the capacities of UNHCR and its partners to achieve better lives for older peoples,  this  training  module  on  Strengthening  the  protection  of  older  persons  in  forced  displacement was developed in collaboration with HelpAge  I...

Policy on Age, Gender and Diversity Accountability

2018UNHCR

The purpose of this Policy is to reinforce UNHCR’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that people are at the centre of all that we do. This requires that we apply an age, gender, and diversity (AGD) approach to all aspects of our work. Through this ...

A claim to dignity: Ageing on the move

2023UNHCR

There is little information on the situation of older persons on the move in the Latin American region. This regional evaluation is the first one to make a comprehensive analysis on the intersectionality between ageing and human mobility. The current...

Addressing the mental health needs of older adult refug...

2023Hafifa Siddiq

Older adult refugees, in particular, may be at a unique risk but are underrepresented in public health promotion programs or research. When unaddressed, mental health issues can have long-term consequences for morbidity and early mortality among olde...

 

Family reunification

Flight and exile divide millions of refugee families worldwide. The reality for many refugees is that they have lost track of their families or have had to leave them behind for economic or safety reasons. The family however plays an essential role to help persons rebuild their lives.

Engaging Refugee Families in Therapy: Exploring the Ben...

2001Nora Sveaass

The possible benefits of including refer- ring professionals in the first family inter- views are being explored as a way to en- gage refugee families in therapy. Families in exile confront a number of problems related both to premigration traumatic ...

Supporting Successful Reunifications

2017Children’s Bureau

If a child has been removed from the care of his or her parents, safe and timely family reunification1 is the preferred permanency option for most children.2 Safe and stable reunification does not begin or end with the return of children to the care ...

Family Separation Trauma Sustained by Asylum-Seeking Ch...

2021Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)

A new study analyzing the mental health impacts of family separation finds that children and parents seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border experience severe psychological trauma even years after reunification. The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)...

Afghanistan: Reuniting families on the run should be pr...

2021UN News

Spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said Afghan refugees have been approaching UNHCR offices, desperately concerned about the safety and welfare of their loved ones left behind, or living in neighbouring countries. “While recent political developments in Afgh...

Denmark: Waiting for family reunification and the risk ...

2021European Comission

This study examines whether family separation caused by prolonged waiting times for family reunification is associated with the risk of psychological disorders – such as PTSD – among refugee fathers. The study was conducted by the Danish Rockwool Fou...

“Born into an inhumane system”: Elizabeth Zion, Video T...

2021Ted Salon

“I want all families to be made whole, to be reunified, to be together — as is our right,” says writer, poet and student Elizabeth Zion. In this profoundly moving talk, Zion shares the impacts of family separation, including her personal struggles wi...

Rights Court Rules Against Denmark Waiting Period for R...

2021Courthouse News Service MOLLY QUELL

A Danish law requiring a three-year waiting period for the families of asylum-seekers to join them violates their right to family life, Europe’s top rights court ruled Friday. The European Court of Human Rights found that Danish authorities did not s...

New rules could prevent thousands of refugees from join...

2022Guardian

More than 17,000 refugees, mainly women and children, could be prevented from reuniting with close family members in the UK due to new rules the Home Office plans to introduce, according to analysis by the Refugee Council.

Disrupted Flight – The Realities of Separated Refugee F...

2014European Council on Refugees and Exiles

It is widely recognised that family life is essential for the well-being of individuals and societies. For people fleeing war and persecution being reunited with their family members is generally their first priority upon arrival in the host country....

Family Migration and Integration

2018Eggebø, Helga and Jan-Paul Brekke

The aim of this literature review is to give an overview of existing research about the relationship between 1) family migration and integration and 2) family migration regulation and integration. With regard to the first issue, outlined in chapter 3...

Family reunification for refugee and migrant children. ...

2020Council of Europe – Florence Boreil et al.

This publication is conceived as a point of reference for capacity-building material, technical assistance, co-operation projects and new practices for and with relevant authorities and institutions. It focuses on the reunification of families with c...

Realising the right to family reunification of refugees...

2017Council of Europe

For refugees, the right to family reunification is crucial because separation from their family members causes significant anxiety and is widely recognised as a barrier to successful integration in host countries. Well-designed family reunification p...

Working with Refugee Families

2020L. de Haene and C. Rousseau (eds)

In the field of refugee family research and intervention forms a growing field of scientific study, focusing on the refugee family as the central niche of coping with, and giving meaning to, trauma, cultural uprooting, and exile. This important new b...

Supporting Refugee Family Reunification in Exile

2020Nora Sveaass and Sissel Reichelt

Family reunion in exile may be a complex and challenging experience. Refugee families are often reunited in the host countries after having lived through long periods of separation, insecurity and violence. Assisting families in the process of reunif...

 

Organisations and sites

Organisations and sites distributing information on refugees and asylum seekers.

UNHCR The United Nations Refugee Agency

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. When people flee their homes, they are often at greater risk of physical, sexual and psychological violence, such as rape, sexual a...

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)

ECRE is a pan-European alliance of 82 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. Our mission is to promote the establishment of fair and humane European asylum policies and practices in accordance with...

Migrant & Refugee Communities Forum

An english organization, founded to provide help for asylum seekers and refugees in London. Some useful information in general.

The Norwegian Refugee Council

An independent humanitarian organisation helping people forced to flee. We work in crises in 31 countries, where we help save lives and rebuild futures.

The Jesuit Refugee Service Europe

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and others who are forcibly displaced.

The International Rescue Committee IRC

Responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.

Medical Foundation for the care of victims of torture

Freedom from Torture is a UK-based charity that focus on helping those who have been exposed to torture or have been tortured themselves. They have centres throughout the UK, including Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester. They also ...

Refugee Council Online

The Refugee Council is one of the leading charities in the UK working directly with refugees, and supporting them to rebuild their lives. We also speak up for refugees using our direct work as an evidence base, and ensure refugees have a stronger and...

British Red Cross Refugee Services

The British Red Cross is the UK’s largest independent provider of services and support for refugees and people seeking asylum.

Refugee- Action

An refugee organization based in the UK, but with some general topics as well.