Understanding Trauma Faced by Syrian Refugees: Challenges and Community Solutions

Meira Mahmoud Yasin


When considering vulnerable populations, many groups of people are considered to be at higher risk for adverse outcomes due to their situation, including refugees. The UNHCR defines a refugee as “someone who is outside of his or her country of origin and has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his or her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and/or political opinion, and is unable or unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.”1For Syrian refugees who have experienced trauma, many challenges arise in various phases of their journey as they attempt to flee to neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is defined as an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, violence, or natural disaster in which the extreme stress overwhelms the ability to cope.2 This includes trauma experiences and exposure to risk pre-flight, during their flight, and upon arrival to the country in which they resettle.  The aim of this article is to address these risks for Syrian refugees and how they can be better supported upon resettlement.

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