My father died in a prison when the war began. He was a government official. Soon after that my brother died in a street fight. One night a group of soldiers came into our house and they beat me. I was captured and kept in a dark room with five other boys for 3 weeks. The soldiers often hit me and I was afraid they were going to kill me. Finally, I managed to escape. My aunt bought me a ticket to Moscow where some man arranged my journey to Finland by train.
– Unnamed child refugee (Sourander 722).
The first portion of trauma that a child refugee will have experienced will have been pre-migration. This refers to the time that has been spent in the home country where the child refugee’s traumatic experiences would have begun. The story of the unnamed child refugee above is one example of what a child could experience before migration, but it is important to remember that each child’s experience is different. Many refugee children will have traumatic experiences that include, but are not limited to, forceful removal from their homes, violence, torture, loss of friends and family, loss of routine – for instance with school (Fazel and Stein 366), living in hiding or as someone else (hiding religion, ethnicity, or culture). The more serious the trauma: the more serious the aftermath in regards to mental health (Pacione, Measham, and Rousseau 343). This exposure is life altering for child refugees in extremely varying gradations.
It is important to keep in mind that child refugees will have been exposed to varying degrees of ordeal, while some of these children will have been quite sheltered, others will have been witnessed to multiple atrocities, or have been a victim of some sort of torture themselves (Pacione, Meash...
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...rom parents takes place, it is also quite prevalent during the migration period; this can be due to an accident or could be done as a strategy to assist in their safety (Fazel and Stein 366). It is more and more common, with immigration regulations becoming tougher around the world, for children to be placed in the hands of smugglers in the hope that they will be able to gain refugee status alone (Fazel and Stein 366). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees states that in 2011 there were 17,700 asylum applications (mostly from Afghanistan and Somalia) for unaccompanied children (Pacione, Measham, and Rousseau 341). Through all these journeys, which all occur inversely, there is the common thread of desperation. Individuals make decisions for themselves and their children with the hope that they will survive – their lives are in shambles and at great risk.
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