Refugees in public policy and social representation
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Forced migration and social trauma: interdisciplinary perspectives from psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology and politics
Refugees move across borders and seek safe havens while they escape armed conflict, persecution and violence. Refugees suffer social trauma while they are in transit and in places where they arrive. The plight of refugees is complex because they may suffer different forms of trauma where they arrive, all the while aiming to avoid the trauma in their homelands. The 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol constitute the core international treaties for governing international protection. Around the world, 148 states are parties to either one or both of these international instruments. The legal and political framework for refugees is governed by international refugee law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. States, while committed to these treaties, are constrained by their own means for providing humanitarian assistance to the arriving refugees. Nonetheless, all states provide after the initial displacement health care, food, shelter, water and sanitation. Whether the refugees are received in accommodation centres or reside in urban areas, attending to their psychosocial needs or trauma- induced ailments comes only later on the agenda of public institutions, international organisations and NGOs. Host communities also suffer from a similar oversight of their needs caused by the presence of refugees in their daily lives. This part of the book seeks answers to the question to what extent, why and how do receiving states and communities address questions around public policy and social representation. In order to do so, the chapters in Part I review the international legislation, the unfolding of legislation on international protection as implementing psychosocial support services, the discourse around trauma and healing in refugee settings, the role of the media in covering the refugee crisis in Europe and its interaction with the implementation of policy initiatives in receiving societies.