Inadequate support for women and girls living in reception facilities in Germany, says German charities

More measures are required to support women and girls living in reception facilities in Germany, said Save the Children and Berlin’s Charité university hospital.

In the first nationwide study on young women, the two organisations revealed that women tend to suffer from more trauma during their irregular migration journey. This is due to the increase risk of sexual violence, exploitation and other social disadvantages. The study, titled “Psychosocial support for girls who have fled their countries”, was published in German on 11 July 2019. The charity Save the Children had commissioned Berlin’s Charité university hospital to interview 83 women and girls in first reception facilities in Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia about fleeing from their homeland and life in Germany.

“Mothers and children fleeing their homeland face unbelievable suffering,” said one of the authors, Meryam Schouler-Ocak of Berlin’s Charité hospital. “Girls should be enabled to not only feel safe, but also to create social relationships and to communicate appropriate to their age without having any fear.”

The study said these traumatic experiences can have a huge impact on their psychosocial development, and require adequate care and protective structures to help them recover. However, it found that these measures were not available. Many of the girls were reported to live in isolation and were given little access to social participation.

To help prevent psychological disorders and promote better integration, authors of the study added that asylum seekers have to process their experience of suffering or witnessing traumatic incidents such as forced prostitution, hunger and death.

Contact with peers, education offerings and needs-based training are all suitable activities that can support women and girls living in these reception centres. Girls and women participating in the study added that creative, musical, art, and nature activities can improve their well-being.

Overall, the proportion of female asylum seekers in Germany has increased from 31 percent in 2015 to over 43 percent in 2018, according to the study.

TMP – 24/07/2019

Photo credit: Jazzmany / Shutterstock

Photo caption: Munich, Germany – September 10, 2015: Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Balkan countries hopping on the next train at the main station in Munich.