Meeting the needs of refugees
The ninth annual Psychology Day at the United Nations focused
on ways psychology can address the global migration crisis.
Today, more than 60 million
people worldwide have been
displaced from their homes,
fleeing war or persecution.
Much of the world began
paying attention last
summer, as waves of
refugees poured from Syria,
Iraq and other countries
across European borders.
In April, speakers at the
ninth annual Psychology
Day at the United Nations
urged attendees — more
than 450 U.N. staff,
ambassadors and diplomats,
psychologists and students
— to think about the
psychosocial aspects of
this global migration crisis.
Their goal is to determine
ways in which psychological
research can guide refugee
relief and resettlement
“This is an urgent call
to wake up to the long-term costs
to society of not addressing these
psychological dimensions of migration,”
said Bloomfield University professor
emeritus Rashmi Jaipal, PhD, co-chair
of the event and one of APA’s NGO
representatives to the United Nations.
Jointly sponsored by APA and more
than a dozen other organizations,
Psychology Day brings psychologists to
the U.N. to show how psychology can
contribute to solving the world’s most
pressing humanitarian problems.
This year, one panel focused on
“cultural integration in the process of
resettlement”: how psychologists can help
prepare refugees to start new lives in their
host countries, while taking into account
cultural considerations and the refugees’
experiences of trauma and suffering.
The second panel focused on children
and youth. “Of [the world’s 60 million
refugees], over half are children and
youth. Many of them are unaccompanied,
and have been placed at risk for violence,
abuse, neglect, trafficking and, for
some, forced military recruitment,” said
Roseanne Flores, PhD, a developmental
psychologist at Hunter College and the
other co-chair of the event.
Speakers discussed the challenges
those children face and how
psychologists can help build resilience
among refugee children.
To learn more and to watch a webcast
of the event, visit www.unpsychologyday.
— Lea Winerman
Women and children refugees arrive in
Chios, Greece in March.