Lesson 1 – The status of refugee children and its impacts
Target group of refugee and asylum-seeking children in Europe actually consists of several sub-groups, including:
- asylum seekers,
- recognized refugees,
- beneficiaries of subsidiary protection,
- persons with “tolerated stay”
- persons with a right of continued abode after several years of “tolerated stay”
- persons with other forms of regular stay (e.g. residence permit)
- persons with “irregular stay”.
These different statuses imply very desperate life conditions and situations of refugees and cause very different perspectives, expectation and motivations of the target groups for integration purposes. Persons with “irregular stay” live in a great uncertainty and may not be so motivated for long-term activities like recognized refugees.
Another aspect is the need of differentiation between refugee target groups according to war trauma and flight experiences. Refugees from conflict zones often continue to experience trauma from persecution, imprisonment, torture and resettlement as well as lack of food, water, and shelter for a long time. Thus, it is important to understand the challenges of refugee families and persons engaged in integration activities.
Psychological distress from war is harmful to refugee children and adults regardless of racial or cultural background. Refugees may experience a sense of helplessness and despair. The most common mental health issue for refugees is post-traumatic stress disorder and related symptoms of depression, anxiety, inattention, sleeping difficulties, nightmares, and survival guilt.
The many needy refugees who have had a traumatic, month - long escape, who were detained for months or even years in Libyan prisons on the way to secure Europe, not only need the usual assistance, but targeted medical / psychological care. (Bio-) Farm visits and activities can support such care measures.
A further differentiation consideration has to be taken in account according to local, regional and national origins as well as to cultural and ethnic backgrounds of refugee children and families.
Farm guides, farmers, teachers and NGO staff involved in Bio-Farm visits should be informed about aware of the diverse background and experiences of refugees, their actual living condition, and life situation to find the adequate ways of accessing to the target groups and of creating appropriate activities and support.
Bio-Farm visits are only helpful for the integration and support of these target groups if these different conditions and aspects are known and considered. Facing all these challenges and necessary differentiations the communication and cooperation between staff, youth and parents is a fundamental need for the preparation and implementation of Bio-Farm visits and activities.