7. A way of life for generations
The length of time people are living as refugees is now longer than ever. Day-to-day life for families in displacement — poverty, fear, insecurity and discrimination — can put the psychological and emotional development of the youngest refugees at risk, writes Axios' Alison Snyder.
- Millions of refugees have been displaced for more than a decade, according to UNHCR data.
- As of 2017, half the world’s refugee population was under the age of 18.
- There are now second and third generations of refugees; children who have never known life outside of a camp or in their home nation.
The big picture: "There are structural problems in the system — policies around refugee residency, resettlement and employment — that directly affect the way parents can care for children and in turn their mental health," says Amanda Sim of the Center for Evidence Based Interventions at the University of Oxford.
Help for the kids: UNICEF, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies and other NGOs offer child services and art- or play-based activities in refugee camps to give kids coping skills that help them combat stress.
- In Bangladesh, there are "play labs" where Rohingya refugee children from Myanmar play for a few hours each day.
Help for the parents: Parents too are chronically stressed by the struggle of trying to provide the most basic of parenting responsibilities — safety, shelter and food.
- "The problem is if you treat kids and send them back to the highly stressed families they are living in, you are undermining your own efforts," said psychologist Kenneth Miller of War Child Holland.
Go deeper: Learn how Miller and others are working with refugee parents.