Conference Agenda

RN16_05c: Health and Migration, Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Francesca Sirna, CNRS EHESS
Location: UP.4.206
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


Proximity and Gender Violence Against Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Health, Healthcare and Good Practice in the Milan and Brescia Areas

Lia Lombardi

University of Milan, Fondazione ISMU

The proposed study focuses on the complexity of proximity and gender violence in a forced migration context. It explores the risks and difficulty of managing the several and different forms of violence, and provides an overview of the situation in the Lombardy region (specifically in the Milan and Brescia areas). The study discusses the results of a “mixed method research”, which includes a desk analysis on migration in Lombardy and on the reception system in Milan and Brescia: the latter is analysed through the approach and the policies adopted by the aforementioned areas. The study also analyses the consequences of violence on migrants’ health, and their access to healthcare and social services. The qualitative study, which was carried out during the implementation of two projects on proximity violence and on refugees and asylum seekers’ health, includes: ten in-depth interviews with institutional stakeholders and healthcare professionals; eleven interviews with representatives from anti-violence and reception centres; and a focus group involving public stakeholders and representatives from the social and healthcare services.

This talk will discuss some theoretical approaches to violence against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, with a focus on women and vulnerable people. It will also analyse social and healthcare policies in the Milan and Brescia areas. The results of the qualitative analysis highlight four key topics: 1. Migrants' experience and violence dynamics; 2. Types and forms of violence; 3. Asylum seekers and refugees’ health and mental health conditions; 4. Good and bad practice in the refugee and asylum seeker healthcare system.

The Well-being of Undocumented Migrants. Baseline Results of a Longitudinal Study in Geneva, Switerland

Claudine Burton-Jeangros, Aline Duvoisin, Yves Jackson

CIGEV-LIVES, University of Geneva, Switzerland

While the uneven distribution of health along different levels of socioeconomic resources has been well documented by health inequalities research, the association between objective resources and well-being assessments is not systematically linear. Indeed, in some groups of the population characterized as vulnerable, well-being is unexpectedly high compared to more well off groups. This suggests that variations in well-being evaluations reflect not only individual life circumstances, but also expectations which can, individually and collectively, vary over time and change across living contexts. This contribution aims at providing a better understanding of the articulation between objective resources and self-assessed quality of life thanks to an on-going study on undocumented migrants in Geneva, Switzerland. It is established that migrant workers who have no access to fundamental social rights experience important economic and social vulnerability. In March 2017, a 2-year pilot program for regularization has been launched in the canton of Geneva, which is hosting a large number of undocumented migrants (estimated to 13’000 persons). Using this program as a unique opportunity to assess the impact of a regularization policy, we initiated an interdisciplinary prospective study to document changes over time in the socio-economic and health conditions as well as the quality of life assessments of those workers. Along with a control group of undocumented migrants who do not meet the regularization criteria, quantitative and qualitative longitudinal data will be collected over four years. This paper will focus on quantitative quality of life assessments at baseline, taking into account the sociodemographic characteristics of the undocumented migrants and their levels of resources in different domains, and some comparisons with residents in Switzerland will be possible.

Communicative Constructions Of Refugees In The Treatment Of Tuberculosis

Tamara Pascale Schwertel

Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany

This paper analyses the communicative constructions of refugees suffering from tuberculosis by the actors involved in the tuberculosis treatment process. I will show, that both the trajectory of tuberculosis as well as the trajectory of migration matter in the treatment of tuberculosis and the construction of “refugees with tuberculosis”. I will demonstrate, how different constructions associated with a refugees’ integration capability as well as their ‘appropriated’ handling and ‘appropriated’ emotional reaction of having tuberculosis create different scopes of action for the actors involved. Moreover, these communicative constructions can be seen as an attempt to establish order in the treatment of tuberculosis. I will argue, that the intersection of these two trajectories migration and tuberculosis creates different regimes of order causing trouble and misunderstandings. Finally, I will provide an outlook for the potential of intersectional approaches in health research. The evaluation is based on eight problem-focused Interviews in all treatment phases. The inpatient treatment is represented by two senior physicians and a nurse. Three social workers were interviewed for the outpatient treatment. In addition, a tuberculosis expert and a public health officer of the health department were part of the sample. This sample represents an actual treatment cycle in Germany. The theoretical framework comprises symbolic interactionism added by Anselm Strauss’ concept of trajectories. For evaluation methods I use a triangulation of grounded theory and sequence analysis.

Mental Distress among Current Refugees: Assimilation or Stress-Proliferation?

Silke Hans, Coline Kuche

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany

Mental Distress among Current Refugees: Assimilation or Stress-Proliferation?

Among the many challenges associated with the large inflow of refugees into European countries in the past few years is the high level of traumatization and mental distress among refugees. This is a problem both for refugees themselves and for health services in the receiving countries: treatment opportunities are rare and it is reasonable to assume that mental distress goes along with other problems in the process of acculturation. However, it is still unknown to what extent this is indeed the case. While the theory of stress proliferation assumes that traumatizing pre-migratory experiences will lead to an accumulation of further mental distress and acculturative problems after migration, (sociological) neo-assimilation theory assumes that for many refugees, mental distress will decrease in the course of incorporation into the receiving society.

Using representative panel data for asylum-seekers who moved to Germany between 2013 and 2016 (the IAB-BAMF-SOEP survey of refugees, N>4000), we analyze the development of mental distress among refugees over time in the course of their first months and years after migration. Findings indicate that (a) more than 20% suffer from moderate or severe mental distress, and 36% from mild distress; (b) negative experiences before and during migration (e.g. war, persecution, exploitation) go along with a higher level of distress. However, (c) mental distress decreases over time and (d) post-migratory explanatory factors (e.g. an insecure legal status, separation from family members), have a larger effect on mental distress than traumatization before or during migration.