Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Trauma of Facing Deportation in Sweden

This should totally move us all.  Children in Sweden are becoming radically ill, shutting down, suffering from "uppgivenhetssyndrom," or "resignation syndrome," upon hearing of their families' deportation notices. Quote from within:
By 2005, more than four hundred children, most between the ages of eight and fifteen, had fallen into the condition. In the medical journal Acta Pædiatrica, Bodegård described the typical patient as “totally passive, immobile, lacks tonus, withdrawn, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent and not reacting to physical stimuli or pain.” 
Such are the "weapons" of the weak, the defenseless victims of xenophobic policies that offer a way to communicate where words have failed.  Horrifically, "Swedish news programs broadcast footage of children on stretchers being loaded into airplanes and expelled from the country."

Forty-two psychiatrists are accusing the government of “systematic public child abuse.”  There was also public outcry so it appears that such families and children are now allowed to stay in Sweden with an illness that can last for years.
I shudder to think of the mental anguish and physical stress and illness our own children are facing right now in the U.S. in the wake of Donald Trump's ICE arrests, deportations, and family separations.  

These are traumatizing times for our community, as well.

In prayer, sadness, and solidarity with Sweden's refugee children and families.


The Trauma of Facing Deportation

In Sweden, hundreds of refugee children have fallen unconscious after being informed that their families will be expelled from the country.

Georgi, a Russian refugee who came to Sweden with his family when he was five years old, could talk at length about the virtues of the Volvo. His doctor described him as “the most ‘Swedeified’ in his family.” He was also one of the most popular boys in his class. For his thirteenth birthday, two friends listed some of the qualities that he evoked: energetic, fun, happy all the time, good human being, amazingly kind, awesome at soccer, sly. 

Georgi’s father, Soslan, had helped found a pacifist religious sect in North Ossetia, a Russian province that borders Georgia. Soslan said that in 2007 security forces demanded that he disband the sect, which rejected the entanglement of the Russian Orthodox Church with the state, and threatened to kill him if he refused. He fled to Sweden with his wife, Regina, and their two children, and applied for asylum, but his claim was denied, because the Swedish Migration Board said that he hadn’t proved that he would be persecuted if he returned to Russia.

Sweden permits refugees to reapply for asylum, and in 2014, having lived in hiding in central Sweden for six years, the family tried again. They argued that there were now “particularly distressing circumstances,” a provision that allowed the board to consider how deportation will affect a child’s psychological health. “It would be devastating if Georgi were forced to leave his community, his friends, his school, and his life,” the headmaster of Georgi’s school, Rikard Floridan, wrote in a letter to the board. He described Georgi as “an example to all classmates,” a student who spoke in “mature and nuanced language” and showed a “deep gratitude for the school.”

Continue reading here.

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