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I now work with refugees at the other end of the line, as I work in Australia's dept. Immigration as a Community Liaison Officer. Australia takes the 3rd highest number of refugees each year (about 13,000 all up), and as you can imagine in the last few years a considerable proportion (50% for sometime) have come from refugee camps servicing the Sudan, Ethiopia & Eritrea, Sierre-Leone and Liberia. Oh, and Congo. My state is small and receives about 400-500 of the annual intake each year, and I can tell you that the fairly sudden appearance of black Africans in this state, which is very homogeonously white, has had quite an impact.

Settling refugees, especially from the African continent where in general the camps are not particularly safe or well -serviced & nearly all the people we receive have been traumatised, including torture, is no easy thing. It is very hard on the individuals, and a complex task in the society where they are being settled.

One thing I know from this is that we often get African refugees in particular who have been 10+ years in refugee camps, and have children who know no other life. These kids in particular, while they more quickly grasp the new local culture than their parents, also have real difficulties in our education system and with integration because their life in the camps has been so divorced from a normal routine & normal societal rules. So anything you can do to increase their education, to help them have structure in their life, is vital.

For eg, I work quite a bit here with local sporting organisations to help the refugee kids get involved. We've had incidents like a whole team of African soccer players being banned from the local competition because they assaulted the umpire (!) - basically because they aren't used to organised structures for play, and of course they are under enormous stress, culture shock etc. in so many ways, that it came out on the field. This is being fixed, but gives you an idea.

best of luck to you. If I have any bright ideas, I'll share.


"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Thu Sep 18th, 2008 at 07:39:56 PM EST

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