Unaccompanied refugee minors: a resilient demographic, gravely at risk

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Arroio Bebianno Simoes, Diego
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Between 2015 and 2017, Germany saw unprecedented levels of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors arrive at its borders. The system was wholly unprepared for this over 5-fold increase in URM migration that took place, it was and still is unable to fulfill its obligations towards this highly vulnerable demographic. This paper aims to analyze the legal framework the URM demographic finds itself in upon arrival into Germany with the aim of highlighting some of the mayor gaps in the system. These gaps are primarily the lack of culturally adequate physical and psychiatric disease screening and follow-up testing; being placed under the care of completely overburdened official guardians; no statutory health coverage for all URMs; along with the dismal state of knowledge about this demographic. After this analysis, the second chapter of this work aims at helping to close the knowledge gap by borrowing from research on the effects of childhood trauma around the world. The findings suggest that URMs are indeed the most vulnerable of refugee groups due to the impact of trauma on the physical and psychiatric health of this population. The link between trauma and mayor physical and psychiatric illnesses, such as cancer, PTSD, depression and many others, is explored along with its effects on behavior, covering citing increases in risky health behaviors, as well as crime and addiction. However, not all hope is lost, the third chapter of this paper, covers the resilience of this group and how establishing better practices for integration can have a great positive impact on this populations’ health outcomes. Some best practices as well as suggestions for reform are covered, and these include, a stronger non-official guardianship system, standardized culturally appropriate screening for mental and physical disease, as well as incentivizing socio-psychological support through the use of culturally integrative activities, that promote mental health and support for their multi-cultural identities.
Second semester University: Masaryk University, Brno
unaccompained migrant children, children, refugees, Germany, asylum, medical care, mental health, psychological aspects