QUOTE OF A FRIEND
“The worst way you can leave someone is in silence.
When I was 18/19 I left my home in silence.
Searching for a safe place.
I left my home in silence.
My home, my dream, my whole family, friends, people who were supporting me…
I might never see it all again…”
Throughout the last decade, the number of refugees and asylum seekers has been increasing exponentially worldwide.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, 2019), 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced (see Figure 1). From this amount, about 25.9 million are refugees and 3.5 million are asylum seekers.
Additionally, half of the population within these groups belong to the most vulnerable demographic, namely children and adolescents under the age of 18 years (UNHCR, Population Statistics, 2020). (Source: https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html)
Refugees and asylum-seekers are hosted in various countries around the world. Nevertheless, politicians and influential media tend to skew people’s perceptions of these people by introducing the West’s rich countries as being the most supportive ones for the populations in need (The World’s Refugees in Numbers, n.d.). But in reality, the lack of solidarity spreads its venom beyond Europe. The international community, and primarily wealthy nations, are failing to divide responsibilities fairly to be able to protect defenseless individuals. Furthermore, they have built an inadequate and erratic system, which exposes this particular population to more unsafe and uncertain existences. Thus, lower- and middle-income countries host double the population of refugees compared to high-income countries (The World’s Refugees in Numbers, n.d.). (Source: https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/global-refugee-crisis-statistics-and-facts/))
Migration Data Portal (https://migrationdataportal.org/) reports all the numbers of refugees around the globe while Flow Monitoring (https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals) allows us to follow the latest news on arrivals to Europe.
Mental Health & Risk Factors
Refugees and asylum-seekers are populations at risk, and it is common to observe symptoms of psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, and depression. This stems from overcoming different obstacles that the involuntary immigrants have to confront (Fazel & Stein, 2002). The psychological implications of displacement for refugees and asylum-seekers have been discussed thoroughly over many research findings. Due to the transitions (flight phases), individuals might have to face several traumatic events afterward (either experienced or witnessed) as well as other difficulties such as anxiety symptoms, depression, and increased adrenaline rushes. Besides that, they also come across cultural isolation during their stay at refugee camps or asylum centers (Fazel & Stein, 2002). All these factors might lead to the development of specific behavioral and social characteristics like aggressiveness, defiance, hyperactivity, feeling of competence, difficulty in peer relations, academic achievements, etc. (Hjern, Angel, & Höjer, 1991; Rousseau, Drapeau, & Platt, 1999). (Schmartz & Majerus, 2020) Furthermore, children and youth are even more at risk because the uncertainty in their lives causes a heightened feeling of insecurity; supporting them to confront these difficulties, broaden their perspectives, and flourish is of great importance (Abdulbaki & Berger, 2019).
Community Music & Refugees
“Musicking needs to be in the service of generating communities, addressing social fragmentation, rebuilding trust and social bonding” (Pavlicevic & Ansdell, 2009; Enge, 2015). As Kohli (2011) states, “the absence of a “home” doesn’t only mean lack of residence, but also “a place of relocating reliable relationships and establishing reciprocity” (Kohli, 2011). Consequently, there is an emerging need for understanding the value of communication and collaboration between people, and most of all, what it means to belong to a social group.
- UNHCR. (2019, June). The UN Refugee Agency. Retrieved from https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html
- UNHCR. (2020). Population Statistics. Retrieved from http://popstats.unhcr.org/en/overview#_ga=2.40456610.1299909557.1583171623-419856674.1574848601
- Fazel, M., & Stein, A. (2002, November). The mental health of refugee children. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 87, 366-370.
- Hjern, A., Angel, B., & Höjer, B. (1991). Persecution and behavior: A report of refugee children from Chile. Child Abuse & Neglect, 15(3), 239-248.
- Rousseau, C., Drapeau, A., & Platt, R. (1999, December). Family trauma and its association with emotional and behavioral problems and social adjustment in adolescent Cambodian refugees. Child Abuse & Neglect, 23(12), 1263-1273.
- Schmartz, C., & Majerus, A. (2020). Mateneen [Together] – a music therapy project for and with young refugees and asylum seekers in Luxembourg. Public Health Panaroma, 6(1), 117-121.
- Abdulbaki, H., & Berger, J. (2019, March 10). Using culture-specific music therapy to manage the therapy deficit of post-traumatic stress disorder and associated mental health conditions in Syrian refugee host environments. Retrieved from Approaches.gr: http://approaches.gr/abdulbaki-a20190530
- Kohli, R. K. (2011, July). Working to Ensure Safety, Belonging and Success for Unaccompanied Asylum‐seeking Children. Child Abuse Review, 20, 311-323.
- Pavlicevic, M., & Ansdell, G. (2009). Between communicative musicality and collaborative musicing: A perspective from community music therapy. In Communicative Musicality – Exploring the basis of Human Companionship (pp. 357-376). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Enge, K. E. (2015). Community music therapy with asylum-seeking and refugee children in norway. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 6(2), 205-215.
- The World’s Refugees in Numbers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/global-refugee-crisis-statistics-and-facts/
- Flow Monitoring. (n.d.). Retrieved from IOM: https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals
- Latest. (n.d.). Retrieved from Migration Data Portal: https://migrationdataportal.org/latest