Canada is amongst many countries known as a refugee-friendly country. From the early 20th century, during the World Wars to other world crises, these countries have opened their doors to people fleeing their home countries for reasons of poverty, persecution and violence. However, the host countries that receive refugees claim to be taxed or stressed because of misperception that refugees are a drain on the social system. Consequently, the refugees lose their own home of origin while at the same time; do not entirely fit in to the host country.
The purpose of this paper will be to highlight some of the difficult coping issues that refugees have upon being forced to leave their country of origin. First, the term ‘refugee’ will be described and explained. Second, the major issues of adjustment for refugees will be discussed. Third, some of the overall support services will be described. Finally, the paper will offer an alternate perspective on improving services for refugees around the world.
Review of Literature Background of Topic Definition.
Refugees are people who arrive to a host country because they are facing persecution based on a membership in a particular racial, ethnic, political or religious group. People in need of protection are those who are facing a threat, torture or other form of violence in their homeland. People who seek for refuge are entitled to stay in the host country, look for employment, and receive social benefits until the government determines their claim for refugee status.
For example, Canada, as a host country has an international reputation with a benevolent immigration laws, and it offers a great protection to refugees.
Canada has, to some extent, been created by immigration. Therefore, it has a solid practice of allowing protection to those who meet the definition of refugee. This tradition is linked to humanitarianism, which is a value that Canadians as individuals, are willing to honor by upholding the country’s commitment to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution. ( Perrin & Dunn, 2007) Statistics.
It is estimated that more that 25 million people are forced to flee their home country due to persecution and threats (Partida, 1996). An estimated of 7. 6 million people were newly displaced on 2012 due to conflict or persecution, including 1. 1 million new refugees, the highest number of new arrivals in one year since 1999. Another 6. 5 million people were newly displaced within the borders of their countries. Twenty three- thousand persons per day leave their homes and seek protection in other places around the world (Newbold, 2012). Why people seek refugee status.
Many people around the world are seeking for refuge due to the destruction of their homeland; the global warming and the rising of the sea levels are leaving people with no food and potable water. The weather conditions are menacing the current habitability of the country. Many of these countries depend on the farming and fishing in order for people to survive. Therefore, they need to flee their homeland and ask for refuge in other countries (Moberg, 2009). Also, many of the displaced people are forced to leave because of human right violations and threats.
Many others have endured traumatic experiences, such as the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda. Another example is Sudan, where the conflict between North and South Sudan is caused by racial, religion, cultural and political differences that have exploited the civilians. Moreover, refuges have experienced torture including physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, depravations, burns and even witnessing the death of their loved ones (Amnesty International, 1990). Specific Impact Issues Coping.
Resettlement is a chance for refugees to reconstruct their lives due to the past experiences of violence, persecution and the loss of family and home in their former home country. There are, however, major objections in the process of coping in a new country and a new culture. Refugees struggle to adapt into a new life style, language, and new education because it is different from their own culture (Pittaway & Shteir, 2009). Also, refugees experience prejudice and discrimination by the host community and this may discourage them from seeking and receiving services from the host country.
In fact, many of them feel the rejection and the lack of acceptance, leaving the refugees with the feeling of not belonging (Korcija-Hercigonja & Rijavec, 1998). Stress. Many refugees have been exposed to major stressors due to the trauma in their former homeland leaving them with a lot of stress and prone to more severe mental health problems (Teodorescu, Heir, Hauff, Wentzel-Larsen, & Lien). Moreover, refugees experience economic difficulties after they have been granted refugee status. For example, 55% of refugees were still dependent on social assistance to some extent eight years after their arrival.
There is also evidence of an interaction between posttraumatic and acculturative stress, that is, refugees with a history of trauma can be expected to have more difficulties in the course of acculturation than those without a history of trauma (Hammarstedt, 2009). Homelessness. The experience of homelessness in refugees does not start in the host country. Most of the refugees have being homeless in their country of origin, and that is the major reason they flee their homeland (Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors Inc. , 2008).
Less than 10% of refugee people successfully access public housing in the first 18 months of resettlement, and housing options are frequently inappropriate for the culture of a refugee person. Also, the market rent is not affordable for the refugees and the waiting list for subsidies housing are very long and the only options are shelters. Shelter usage is not only at the arrival to the host country but may be an indicator of housing problem among the refugees (Sherrell, D’Addario & Hiebert). Poverty. Refugees face poverty in ways that are similar to other marginalized groups in a host society.
These include: low income, problems with access to services, lack of access to well-paid employment and challenging attitudes to those living on a low income (Mulvey, 2009). However, refugees have additional problems such as: lower levels of benefits than the general population, do not pay rent, and are dependent on the provision of housing and energy costs through social assistance. This period is a particularly vulnerable time for new refugees because they have to make the transition from complete dependency to the responsibility of negotiating the complex housing, health benefits system, and paying for energy costs.
Restrictions on employment for refugee claimants are seen as contributing to the risk of poverty (Mulvey, 2009). Major Services Approaches Psychotherapy. Many refugees are victims of war-related and past experiences leaving them with a post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychotherapy is the interactive process between a person or group and a qualified mental health professional, and its purpose is the exploration of thoughts, feelings and behavior for the purpose of problem solving or achieving higher levels of functioning (Cinfuegos & Monelli, 1983).
Loving- Kindness Treatment. Is a Buddhism practice, and it is defined as being aware of the present and performing Loving- Kindness everywhere you go. This is a treatment that is used to reduce stress due to post-traumatic experiences. The treatment emphasizes in emotion techniques such as mindfulness. This practice is use to regulate emotions, and decrease anger. The practice of Loving- Kindness is a key skill that better equips refugees to adjust to a new social, and cultural environment (Hoffman & Sawyer, 2012).
Community Services. Focuses on providing care for the basic needs for refugees as newcomers in the host country. For example, community services might include ESL programs (English as a Second Language), which help to reduce the language barrier in their host society. Another is government social assistance, which will help to empower refugees to become independent and prepares them for the skills needed for the workforce (Bakewell, 2003). Implication of Services Critique of Services Benefits of Psychotherapy.
Refugees who seek psychotherapy will obtain better results because it helps them to identify the key issues and emotional triggers that prevent or blocks their mental state in order for them to cope in their new environment. It will also facilitate the process in order for them to become more mentally stable to continue their adjustment into the host country. Therefore, they can succeed in their learning development and workforce skills that will help them establish themselves, emotionally and mentally, as human beings in their community.
As a consequence, they will achieve higher levels of living and functioning in their homes, as a family unit, as well as with individuals among their surroundings. Drawbacks of Psychotherapy. The issue with psychotherapy treatment is that refugees might not be open nor disclose enough from their past experiences, due to their traumatic mental damage in their former homeland. On the other end, the therapists may lack knowledge about what the refugees have gone through in their past, which could slow down or worsen the healing process, that might result in a wrong diagnosis.
Moreover, it can lead the refugees to be dependable on the treatment and unable to handle his or her challenges. The refuges may see the therapists as a hero and therefore fall into a dual relationship and as an outcome, a failed treatment. Improvement of Psychotherapy. Refugees have a significantly major mental health problem. Therefore, the host country should be able to provide an effective mental health intervention, which includes the use of bilingual and culture-educated staff and training in disorders associated with the immigrant experience, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD).
If the therapist is well trained and speaks the language of the refugee, this will help the client to communicate better, therefore the treatment will be more accurate and effective. Benefits of Loving-Kindness Treatment. There are many benefits of the Loving-Kindness treatment. One of them is it reduces stress due to past experiences. It helps the refugees to focus on the present and be able to forget traumatic memories. It facilitates them to cope into their new environment and be able to socialize in their surroundings. It also brings peace of mind in order for them to function as normal civilians. Drawbacks of Loving-Kindness Treatment.
One of the main drawbacks of this treatment is that it may seem as a religion and not all refugees would be open to receive it, therefore the treatment would not be effective for all cultures, only for those who believe in the treatment. Another problem is that in the moment of the treatment, it can bring bad memories, anxiety, and anger episodes because the refugees have to address their past experiences in order for them to focus on the present. In addition, the treatment is a short-term relief but a long-term process because the refugees must continue until it has become a pattern behavior. Improvements of Loving-Kindness Treatment.
It is very important for the improvement of the Loving-Kindness treatment to incorporate other culturally accepted techniques and methods into the healing process that will be more accepted among refugees around the world. By including other methods of treatment, the process will be faster and effective. Benefits of Community Service. The community service that the host country offers to the refugees helps them to adjust effortlessly into their environment by empowering them to adapt rapidly into the new culture. In addition, it will facilitate the refugees to establish themselves and socialize into the community.
For example, language-learning programs will help them to learn the language of the host country in order to be able to have better paying jobs, better education, and an easier adaption. At the same time, community service programs help refugees to learn how to finally have stability, because many of them have never experienced peace of mind in their homes and in their lives. Another benefit is that these services will help the refugee to cope and to some extent erase the traumatic memories by creating new ones and changing their pattern mental behaviors. Drawbacks of Community Service.
The negative aspect of these services is that many times there are unattainable requirements that may not be applicable or appropriate for the new refugees. For example, some agencies require proper identification in order for them to receive assistance, however, at the arrival into the host country, the border retains the refugee documentation that will be given at the end of the refugee claimant process. Therefore, this will delay the time to obtain proper identification from the host country. As a result, it will stop the agency to provide the correct assistance to the refugee in their time of need.
Another drawback is that instead of the refugee to be empowered to develop the skills needed to adapt, they may become dependable on the assistance of community service of the host country. For example, a refugee might depend on monetary assistance and not search for employment or education that eventually would lead to self-sufficiency. Improvements of Community Service. One of the improvements of the community services is to not blame the refugees for not integrating into the host country culture, such as not speaking the language fast enough, having low levels of education, or not being self-sufficient.
The community should be more understanding about the refugee’s traumatic stress that may make the learning process longer and foremost, the refugees need to be mentally stable before integrating and learning can begin. The community should implement more educational programs into the host community about the culture and experiences of refugees so that they may help the refugee to integrate and adapt into the new culture.
Also, the community services should be able to create more programs that speak the language of the refugee because this will help them to understand the programs in order for them to advance in the growing process. Conclusion In conclusion, this paper has provided a better knowledge of who a refugee is, why they seek protection, the challenges that refugees face upon the arrival into the host country, the approaches and services to address these challenges and finally the critiques of these services and what is needed to improve them.
The purpose of this paper is for the host community to be more aware of the issues that a refugee goes through, in order for them to better understand and assist the refugees to become part of the culture and help them grow as human beings, in the midst of the process of healing from their past trauma. The question is whether the host country and its citizens will be willing to make the changes and efforts required to improve the process of refugee claimants around the world.