Their resettlement, however, has not been without a new sort of trauma. According to a recent study by Paul L. Geltman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues, many of these young men have exhibited the behavioral and emotional distress associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The troubling findings are not without some promise, though, for they also indicate that future young refugees can thrive on all fronts if resettlement efforts take a comprehensive approach that includes greater family and community engagement augmented by innovative social service and health-care interventions.
The new study appears in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It was funded by the Joel and Barbara Alpert Endowment for the Children of the City, Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center.
In 2000, the U.S. began the resettlement of unaccompanied minors from a Kenyan refugee camp, a group called the "Lost Boys of Sudan" by the news media. As very young children in the Sudan in the 1980s, they had been forced to flee their burning villages as their parents and families were often killed. Seeking shelter in Ethiopia, an estimated 25,000 children trekked hundreds of miles across the savannah and desert, stalked by hyenas and lions. Expelled by force from Ethiopia in 1991, they fled to Kenya, fording rivers in which many drowned or were killed by crocodiles.
In undertaking the study, the researchers noted that refugee children who are not accompanied by parents or family members when resettled in other countries seem to be at particularly high risk for symptoms of emotional dist
Contact: Gina DiGravio