Society and Workplace Diversity Research Group

Living in refugee camps in Europe

Picture of refugee camp
Gro Mjeldheim Sandal

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We find ourselves in an era marked by unparalleled humanitarian crises, many of which stem from and are intensified by armed conflict. With over 80 million people globally displaced by conflict, individuals are often compelled to abandon their homes, enduring challenging conditions and living without access to even the most essentials for day-to-day life. Many displaced people experience mental health problems and enduring distress due to stressors before, during and after the flight. Greece, serving as a primary entry point to Europe, has accommodated over 1.5 million refugees, many of whom have resided in refugee camps.

Access to health services in these contexts is often limited. Cultural variations in explanations of illnesses and preferred coping strategies and help-seeking paths may also constitute significant barriers to providing mental health services to refugees. With the support of the humanitarian organizations, Terre des Hommes and A Drop in the Ocean, we have explored the experiences of Afghan refugees living in camps, their stressors, and coping mechanisms. We hope that this research holds practical value for stakeholders in the humanitarian field and can assist the development of psychological health interventions for this group. To learn more about our research, please click on the link below.

Alongside the research, we had workshops for refugees living in the camps and urban settings in Greece with the focus on self-care in difficult times.

Both the workshops and research activities were carried out through a collaborative approach, together with individuals with refugee backgrounds. This approach gave us the opportunity learn from people with lived experience and helped tailoring the content of the workshops for those who attended. Mahdia Hossaini, who contributed, stated “Contributing to this study's success has been both gratifying and empowering. Beyond the technical aspects of translation, I've played a pivotal role in fostering a sense of trust and openness between researchers and participants. As I engage in this dual role of interpreter and advocate, it's evident that our findings can catalyze positive change. By amplifying the voices of refugees and advocating for policies that actively promote community life, we are not merely collecting data but actively contributing.”

Read more: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36843000/