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Women in refuge: Syrian women voicing health sequelae due to war traumatic experiences and displacement challenges.

  • Author(s): Rizkalla, N;
  • Arafa, R;
  • Mallat, NK;
  • Soudi, L;
  • Adi, S;
  • Segal, SP
  • et al.

OBJECTIVE:The Syrian war created a mass exodus of people to neighboring countries. Jordan hosts approximately 1.4 million Syrians who sought refuge and protection. This research represents an effort to understand the subjective narratives of Syrian refugee women's war traumatic experiences and displacement challenges while living in Jordan and the consequences on their physical and mental health. METHODS:Data gathered between March and June 2014 included 24 in-depth interviews with Syrian refugee women who sought services from humanitarian organizations in Jordan. Interviews were conducted in Arabic and were audio recorded. A team of four researchers translated and transcribed the interviews. Group narrative methodology was utilized to analyze the interviews. RESULTS:The study suggests that Syrian refugee women experienced diverse war atrocities including shelling, loss of property, separation from family members, and threats to their lives and their beloved ones, among a few. In Jordan, they reported on multiple displacement challenges, which are perceived as a continuous traumatic experience, as well as somatization. Narratives of women also included sequelae to their physical and mental health due to such stressors. Barriers to obtaining physical and mental health services are discussed, including inadequate medical treatment, lack of mental health services, and stigma on mental health, which might be associated to somatization of mental illnesses. CONCLUSION:It is crucial that humanitarian organizations and host countries like Jordan bear the responsibility to enhancing accessibility to comprehensive trauma-focused physical and mental health services for Syrian refugees in a culturally and gender sensitive manner.

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