• ‘Living in this constant nightmare of insecurity and uncertainty’

    DURING the first week of 2021, Katrin Glatz-Brubakk treated a refugee who had tried to drown himself.

    His arms, already covered with scars, were sliced open with fresh cuts.

    He told her: “I can’t live in this camp any more. I’m tired of being afraid all the time, I don’t want to live any more.”

    He is 11 years old. Glatz-Brubakk, a child psychologist at Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) mental health clinic in Lesbos, tells me he is the third child she’s seen for suicidal thoughts and attempts so far this year.

    At the time we spoke, it was only two weeks into the new year.

    The boy is one of thousands of children living in the new Mavrovouni (also known as Kara Tepe) refugee camp on the Greek island, built after a fire destroyed the former Moria camp in September.

    MSF has warned of a mental health “emergency” among children at the site, where 7,100 refugees are enduring the coldest months of the year in flimsy tents without heating or running water.

    Situated by the coast on a former military firing range, the new site, dubbed Moria 2.0, is completely exposed to the elements with tents repeatedly collapsing and flooding.

    This week winds of up to 100km/h battered the camp and temperatures dropped to zero. Due to lockdown measures residents can only leave once a week, meaning there is no escape, not even temporarily, from life in the camp.
    Camp conditions causing children to break down, not their past traumas

    It is these appalling conditions which are causing children to break down to the point where some are even losing the will to live, Glatz-Brubakk tells me.

    While the 11-year-old boy she treated earlier this year had suffered traumas in his past, the psychologist says he was a resilient child and had been managing well for a long time.

    “But he has been there in Moria now for one year and three months and now he is acutely suicidal.”

    This is also the case for the majority of children who come to the clinic.

    “On our referral form, when children are referred to us we have a question: ‘When did this problem start?’ and approximately 90 per cent of cases it says when they came to Moria.”

    Glatz-Brubakk tells me she’s seen children who are severely depressed, have stopped talking and playing and others who are self-harming.

    Last year MSF noted 50 cases of suicidal thoughts and attempts among children on the island, the youngest of whom was an eight-year-old girl who tried to hang herself.

    It’s difficult to imagine children so young even thinking about taking their lives.

    But in the camp, where there are no activities, no school, where tents collapse in the night, and storms remind children of the war they fled from, more and more little ones are being driven into despair.

    “It is living in this constant nightmare of insecurity and uncertainty that is causing children to break down,” Glatz-Brubakk says.

    “They don’t think it’s going to get better. ‘I haven’t slept for too long, I’ve been worrying every minute of every day for the last year or two’ — when you get to that point of exhaustion, falling asleep and never waking up again is more tempting than being alive.”

    Children play in the mud in the Moria 2 camp [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    Mental health crisis worsening

    While there has always been a mental health crisis on the island, Glatz-Brubakk says the problem has worsened since the fire reduced Moria to ashes five months ago.

    The blaze “retraumatised” many of the children and triggered a spike in mental health emergencies in the clinic.

    But the main difference, she notes, is that many people have now lost any remnant of hope they may have been clinging to.

    Following the fire, the European Union pledged there would be “no more Morias,” and many refugees believed they would finally be moved off the island.

    But it quickly transpired that this was not going to be the case.

    While a total of 5,000 people, including all the unaccompanied minors, have been transferred from Lesbos — according to the Greek government — more than 7,000 remain in Moria 2.0, where conditions have been described as worse than the previous camp.

    “They’ve lost hope that they will ever be treated with dignity, that they will ever have their human rights, that they will be able to have a normal life,” Glatz-Brubakk says.

    “Living in a mud hole as they are now takes away all your feeling of being human, really.”

    Yasser, an 18-year-old refugee from Afghanistan and Moria 2.0 resident, tells me he’s also seen the heavy toll on adults’ mental health.

    “In this camp they are not the same people as they were in the previous camp,” he says. “They changed. They have a different feeling when you look in their eyes.”

    [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    No improvements to Moria 2.0

    The feelings of abandonment, uncertainty and despair have also been exacerbated by failures to make improvements to the camp, which is run by the Greek government.

    It’s been five months since the new camp was built yet there is still no running water or mains electricity.

    Instead bottled water is trucked in and generators provide energy for around 12 hours a day.

    Residents and grassroots NGOs have taken it upon themselves to dig trenches to mitigate the risk of flooding, and shore up their tents to protect them from collapse. But parts of the camp still flood.

    “When it rains even for one or two hours it comes like a lake,” says Yasser, who lives in a tent with his four younger siblings and parents.

    Humidity inside the tents also leaves clothes and blankets perpetually damp with no opportunity to get them dry again.

    Despite temperatures dropping to zero this week, residents of the camp still have no form of heating, except blankets and sleeping bags.

    The camp management have not only been unforgivably slow to improve the camp, but have also frustrated NGOs’ attempts to make changes.

    Sonia Nandzik, co-founder of ReFOCUS Media Labs, an organisation which teaches asylum-seekers to become citizen journalists, tells me that plans by NGOs to provide low-energy heated blankets for residents back in December were rejected.

    Camp management decided small heaters would be a better option. “But they are still not there,” Nandzik tells me.

    “Now they are afraid that the power fuses will not take it and there will be a fire. So there is very little planning, this is a big problem,” she says.

    UNHCR says it has purchased 950 heaters, which will be distributed once the electricity network at the site has been upgraded. But this all feels too little, too late.

    Other initiatives suggested by NGOs like building tents for activities and schools have also been rejected.

    The Greek government, which officially runs the camp, has repeatedly insisted that conditions there are far better than Moria.

    Just this week Greek migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis claimed that “no-one is in danger from the weather in the temporary camp.”

    While the government claims the site is temporary, which may explain why it has little will to improve it, the 7,100 people stuck there — of whom 33 per cent are children — have no idea how long they will be kept in Moria 2.0 and must suffer the failures and delays of ministers in the meantime.

    “I would say it’s becoming normal,” Yasser says, when asked if he expected to be in the “temporary” camp five months after the fire.

    “I know that it’s not good to feel these situations as normal but for me it’s just getting normal because it’s something I see every day.”

    Yasser is one of Nandzik’s citizen journalism students. Over the past few months, she says she’s seen the mental health of her students who live in the camp worsen.

    “They are starting to get more and more depressed, that sometimes they do not show up for classes for several days,” she says, referring to the ReFOCUS’s media skills lessons which now take place online.

    One of her students recently stopped eating and sleeping because of depression.

    Nandzik took him to an NGO providing psychosocial support, but they had to reject his case.

    With only a few mental health actors on the island, most only have capacity to take the most extreme cases, she says.

    “So we managed to find a psychologist for him that speaks Farsi but in LA because we were seriously worried about him that if we didn’t act now it is going to go to those more severe cases.”

    [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    No escape or respite

    What makes matters far worse is that asylum-seekers have no escape or respite from the camp. Residents can only leave the camp for a period of four hours once per week, and only for a limited number of reasons.

    A heavy police presence enforces the strict lockdown, supposedly implemented to stop the spread of Covid-19.

    While the officers have significantly reduced the horrific violence that often broke out in Moria camp, their presence adds to the feeling of imprisonment for residents.

    “The Moria was a hell but since people have moved into this new camp, the control of the place has increased so if you have a walk, it feels like I have entered a prison,” Nazanin Furoghi, a 27-year-old Afghan refugee, tells me.

    “It wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that I feel I am walking in a dead area. There is no joy, no hope — at least for me it is like this. Even if before I enter the camp I am happy, after I am feeling so sad.”

    Furoghi was moved out of the former Moria camp with her family to a flat in the nearby town of Mytilene earlier last year. She now works in the new camp as a cultural mediator.

    Furoghi explains to me that when she was living in Moria, she would go out with friends, attend classes and teach at a school for refugee children at a nearby community centre from morning until the evening.

    Families would often bring food to the olive groves outside the camp and have picnics.

    Those rare moments can make all the difference, they can make you feel human.

    “But people here, they don’t have any kind of activities inside the camp,” she explains.“There is not any free environment around the camp, it’s just the sea and the beach and it’s very windy and it’s not even possible to have a simple walk.”

    Parents she speaks to tell her that their children have become increasingly aggressive and depressed. With little else to do and no safe place to play, kids have taken to chasing cars and trucks through the camp.

    Their dangerous new game is testament to children’s resilience, their ability to play against all odds. But Nazanin finds the sight incredibly sad.

    “This is not the way children should have to play or have fun,” she says, adding that the unhygienic conditions in the camp also mean the kids often catch skin diseases.

    The mud also has other hidden dangers. Following tests, the government confirmed last month that there are dangerous levels of lead contamination in the soil, due to residue from bullets from when the site was used as a shooting range. Children and pregnant women are the most at risk from the negative impacts of lead exposure.

    [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    The cruelty of containment

    Asylum-seekers living in camps on the Aegean islands have been put under varying degrees of lockdown since the outbreak in March.

    Recent research has shown the devastating impact of these restrictions on mental health. A report by the International Rescue Committee, published in December, found that self-harm among people living in camps on Chios, Lesbos and Samos increased by 66 per cent following restrictions in March.

    One in three were also said to have contemplated suicide. The deteriorating mental health crisis on the islands is also rooted in the EU and Greek government’s failed “hot-spot” policies, the report found.

    Asylum-seekers who arrive on the Aegean islands face months if not years waiting for their cases to be processed.

    Passing this time in squalid conditions wears down people’s hopes, leading to despair and the development of psychiatric problems.

    “Most people entered the camp as a healthy person, but after a year-and-a-half people have turned into a patient with lots of mental health problems and suicidal attempts,” Foroghi says.

    “So people have come here getting one thing, but they have lost many things.”

    [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    Long-term impacts

    Traumatised children are not only unable to heal in such conditions, but are also unable to develop the key skills they need in adult life, Glatz-Brubakk says.

    This is because living in a state of constant fear and uncertainty puts a child’s brain into “alert mode.”

    “If they stay long enough in this alert mode their development of the normal functions of the brain like planning, structure, regulating feeling, going into healthy relationships will be impaired — and the more trauma and the longer they are in these unsafe conditions, the bigger the impact,” she says.

    Yasser tells me if he could speak to the Prime Minister of Greece, his message would be a warning of the scars the camp has inflicted on them.

    “You can keep them in the camp and be happy on moving them out but the things that won’t change are what happened to them,” he says.

    “What will become their personality, especially children, who got impacted by the camp so much? What doesn’t change is what I felt, what I experienced there.”

    Glatz-Brubakk estimates that the majority of the 2,300 children in the camp need professional mental health support.

    But MSF can only treat 300 patients a year. And even with support, living in conditions that create ongoing trauma means they cannot start healing.

    [Pic: Mare Liberum]

    Calls to evacuate the camps

    This is why human rights groups and NGOs have stressed that the immediate evacuation of the island is the only solution. In a letter to the Greek ombudsman this week, Legal Centre Lesvos argues that the conditions at the temporary site “reach the level of inhuman and degrading treatment,” and amount to “an attack on “vulnerable’ migrants’ non-derogable right to life.”

    Oxfam and the Greek Council for Refugees have called for the European Union to share responsibility for refugees and take in individuals stranded on the islands.

    But there seems to be little will on behalf of the Greek government or the EU to transfer people out of the camp, which ministers claimed would only be in use up until Easter.

    For now at least it seems those with the power to implement change are happy to continue with the failed hot-spot policy despite the devastating impact on asylum-seekers.

    “At days I truly despair because I see the suffering of the kids, and when you once held hands with an eight, nine, 10-year-old child who doesn’t want to live you never forget that,” Glatz-Brubakk tells me.

    “And it’s a choice to keep children in these horrible conditions and that makes it a lot worse than working in a place hit by a natural catastrophe or things you can’t control. It’s painful to see that the children are paying the consequences of that political choice.”

    #Greece #Kara_Tepe #Mavrovouni #Moria #mental_health #children #suicide #trauma #camp #refugee #MSF


  • Mental health ’emergency’ among child refugees in Greece
    Katy Fallon

    Concerns mount for children who have witnessed violence, a devastating camp fire, and other horrors in Greece.

    Names marked with an asterisk* have been changed to protect identities.

    Lesbos, Greece – Laleh*, an eight-year-old Afghan girl, is one of the thousands of children who live in the new, temporary camp on Lesbos, which was established in the wake of a devastating fire that destroyed the notorious Moria camp last September.

    She is among several children who are currently being treated at a mental health clinic on Lesbos, which is run by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), an organisation which has warned of a mental health “emergency” in the Greek island camps.

    Last year in Moria, a camp known for its poor living conditions, Laleh witnessed a violent fight as she was waiting in a queue for food with her father.

    Her mother Hawa*, 29, said that afterwards, Laleh started having panic attacks and became increasingly withdrawn and uncommunicative.

    The child was since hospitalised because she stopped eating. These days, she finds most activities challenging.

    The family now resides in the new camp in Mavrovouni, a dusty patch of earth where everyone lives in tents. The site is strictly monitored and most residents are only allowed to leave once a week.

    “During the day, she just lies down and closes her eyes,” said Hawa.

    A drawing by a child in Lesbos of the perilous sea journey to Europe undertaken by many migrants and refugees [Courtesy: MSF]

    At night, Laleh wears a nappy because she does not always say if she needs to go to the toilet.

    Something as simple as climbing steps can be difficult and feel overwhelming for her.

    “Before she was always drawing and painting,” Hawa said. “She was very hopeful, she wanted to be a doctor in the future.

    “It’s really hard for me as a mother. Laleh never had this problem before. When it started I was so worried and sad, I didn’t know how to manage,” she said. “She doesn’t really speak, she’s very quiet.”

    The fire which reduced Moria to ashes traumatised the family further.

    “Laleh had a psychogenic [non-epileptic] seizure and she fell down, everyone was shouting and running, it was a very difficult time.”

    A drawing by a child in Lesbos depicting the fire which raced through the Moira refugee camp in September [Courtesy: MSF]

    Laleh has had trouble sleeping and so Hawa lies with her and tells her stories, massaging her head in the hope it will soothe her.

    The family has seen some improvement in Laleh’s condition since she started attending MSF’s clinic, but she is still very withdrawn.

    Hawa said the securitised nature of the camp also has an effect on the children who live there.

    It is yet unclear whether the camp is being policed because of the pandemic and fears that the refugees may contract or spread the coronavirus, or as part of an increasingly securitised approach towards camps on the Greek islands.

    “Most of the children are afraid of the police because there are so many police around, it’s very difficult to go out of the camp and the children believe it’s a prison and that they can’t get out,” she said.

    Hawa herself said she views the camp as a “prison”, adding: “I hope that we leave this camp, this is my only hope for now.”

    Refugees and migrants wait to be transferred to camps on the mainland after their arrival on a passenger ferry from the island of Lesbos at the port of Lavrio, Greece, in September 2020 [File: Costas Baltas/Reuters]

    In 2020, child psychologists at MSF noted 50 cases of children with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.

    “I never imagined it would be this bad,” said Katrin Glatz-Brubakk, a mental health supervisor for MSF on Lesbos.

    She told Al Jazeera they have seen children with severe depression, suicidal thoughts and that many have stopped playing.

    “As a child psychologist, I get very worried when children don’t play at all and we see a lot of that in the camp,” Glatz-Brubakk said.

    “Many of the children have experienced trauma but if they were moved to a [place with] safe and good [conditions] they would start healing from it. Now they get sicker and sicker because of the conditions they live in.

    “We are basically giving them skills to deal with a situation they should never be living in in the first place, it’s not treatment: it’s survival.”

    #Greece #mental_health #trauma #suicide #children #camps #Lesbos #MSF


  • The Asylum Story: Narrative Capital and International Protection

    Obtaining international protection relies upon an ability to successfully navigate the host country’s asylum regime. In #France, the #récit_de_vie, or asylum story, is critical to this process. An asylum seeker must craft their story with the cultural expectations of the assessor in mind. The shaping of the asylum story can be seen as an act of political protest.

    The role of the asylum story within the asylum procedure

    Within a context of increasing securitization of Europe’s borders, the consequences of differentiated rights tied to immigration status have profound impacts. The label of “refugee” confers rights and the chance to restart one’s life. In order to obtain this label, a narrative of the person’s history is required: the asylum story. It must explain the reasons and mechanisms of individualized persecution in the asylum seeker’s country of origin or residence, and the current and sustained fears of this persecution continuing should they return. In France, the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA)
    is responsible for determining whether or not the person will be granted protection, either through refugee status or subsidiary protection.

    This essay examines the construction of these stories based on participant observation conducted within an association supporting exiles in Nice called Habitat et Citoyenneté (“Housing and Citizenship”, hereafter H&C).

    One of H&C’s activities is supporting asylum seekers throughout the asylum process, including the writing of the story and preparation of additional testimony for appeals in the event of a rejection. Over time, H&C has increasingly specialized in supporting women seeking asylum, many of whom have suffered gender-based and sexual violence. These women’s voices struggle to be heard within the asylum regime as it currently operates, their traumas cross-examined during an interview with an OFPRA protection officer. Consequently, an understanding of what makes a “good” asylum story is critical. Nicole and Nadia, members of H&C who play multiple roles within the association, help to develop the effective use of “narrative capital” whereby they support the rendering of the exiles’ experiences into comprehensive and compelling narratives.
    Creating the narrative while struggling against a tide of disbelief

    The experience of asylum seekers in Nice illustrates the “culture of disbelief” (Kelly 2012) endemic within the asylum system. In 2019, OFPRA reported a 75% refusal rate.

    Rejection letters frequently allege that stories are “not detailed enough,” “vague,” “unconvincing,” or “too similar” to other seekers’ experiences. These perfunctory refusals of protection are an assault in and of themselves. Women receiving such rejections at H&C were distressed to learn their deepest traumas had been labelled as undeserving.

    While preparing appeals, many women remembered the asylum interviews as being akin to interrogations. During their interviews, protection officers would “double-back” on aspects of the story to “check” the consistency of the narrative, jumping around within the chronology and asking the same question repeatedly with different phrasing in an attempt to confuse or trick the asylum seeker into “revealing” some supposed falsehood. This practice is evident when reading the transcripts of OFPRA interviews sent with rejection letters. Indeed, the “testing” of the asylum seeker’s veracity is frequently applied to the apparent emotiveness of their descriptions: the interviewer may not believe the account if it is not “accompanied by suitable emotional expression” (Shuman and Bohmer 2004). Grace, recently granted protective status, advised her compatriots to express themselves to their fullest capability: she herself had attempted to demonstrate the truth of her experiences through the scars she bore on her body, ironically embarrassing the officer who had himself demanded the intangible “proof” of her experience.

    A problematic reality is that the asylum seeker may be prevented from producing narrative coherency owing to the effects of prolonged stress and the traumatic resonance of memories themselves (Puumala, Ylikomi and Ristimäki 2018). At H&C, exiles needed to build trust in order to be able to narrate their histories within the non-judgemental and supportive environment provided by the association. Omu, a softly spoken Nigerian woman who survived human trafficking and brutal sexual violence, took many months before she was able to speak to Nadia about her experiences at the offices of H&C. When she did so, her discomfort in revisiting that time in her life meant she responded minimally to any question asked. Trauma’s manifestations are not well understood even among specialists. Therefore, production of “appropriately convincing” traumatic histories is moot: the evaluative methodologies are highly subjective, and indeed characterization of such narratives as “successful” does not consider the person’s reality or lived experience. Moreover, language barriers, social stereotypes, cultural misconceptions and expected ways of telling the truth combine to impact the evaluation of the applicant’s case.

    Asylum seekers are expected to demonstrate suffering and to perform their “victimhood,” which affects mental well-being: the individual claiming asylum may not frame themselves as passive or a victim within their narrative, and concentrating on trauma may impede their attempts to reconstruct a dignified sense of self (Shuman and Bohmer 2004). This can be seen in the case of Bimpe: as she was preparing her appeal testimony, she expressed hope in the fact that she was busy reconstructing her life, having found employment and a new community in Nice; however, the de facto obligation to embody an “ideal-type” victim meant she was counselled to focus upon the tragedy of her experiences, rather than her continuing strength in survival.
    Narrative inequality and the disparity of provision

    Standards of reception provided for asylum seekers vary immensely, resulting in an inequality of access to supportive services and thereby the chance of obtaining status. Governmental reception centers have extremely limited capacity: in 2019, roughly a third of the potential population

    were housed and receiving long-term and ongoing social support. Asylum seekers who find themselves outside these structures rely upon networks of associations working to provide an alternative means of support.

    Such associations attempt to counterbalance prevailing narrative inequalities arising due to provisional disparities, including access to translation services. Nicole is engaged in the bulk of asylum-story support, which involves sculpting applications to clarify ambiguities, influence the chronological aspect of the narration, and exhort the asylum seeker to detail their emotional reactions (Burki 2015). When Bimpe arrived at H&C only a few days ahead of her appeal, the goal was to develop a detailed narrative of what led her to flee her country of origin, including dates and geographical markers to ground the story in place and time, as well as addressing the “missing details” of her initial testimony.

    Asylum seekers must be allowed to take ownership in the telling of their stories. Space for negotiation with regard to content and flow is brought about through trust. Ideally, this occurs through having sufficient time to prepare the narrative: time allows the person to feel comfortable opening up, and offers potential to go back and check on details and unravel areas that may be cloaked in confusion. Nicole underlines the importance of time and trust as fundamental in her work supporting women with their stories. Moreover, once such trust has been built, “risky” elements that may threaten the reception of the narrative can be identified collaboratively. For example, mention of financial difficulties in the country of origin risks reducing the asylum seeker’s experience to a stereotyped image where economics are involved (see: the widely maligned figure of the “economic migrant”).

    Thus, the asylum story is successful only insofar as the seeker has developed a strong narrative capital and crafted their experience with the cultural expectations of the assessor in mind. In today’s reality of “asylum crisis” where policy developments are increasingly repressive and designed to recognize as few refugees as possible, the giving of advice and molding of the asylum story can be seen as an act of political protest.


    Burki, M. F. 2015. Asylum seekers in narrative action: an exploration into the process of narration within the framework of asylum from the perspective of the claimants, doctoral dissertation, Université de Neuchâtel (Switzerland).
    Kelly, T. 2012. “Sympathy and suspicion: torture, asylum, and humanity”, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 753–768.
    Puumala, E., Ylikomi, R. and Ristimäki, H. L. 2018. “Giving an account of persecution: The dynamic formation of asylum narratives”, Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 197–215.
    Shuman, A. and Bohmer, C. 2004. “Representing trauma: political asylum narrative”, Journal of American Folklore, pp. 394–414.

    #asile #migrations #audition #narrative #récit #OFPRA #France #capital_narratif #crédibilité #cohérence #vraisemblance #véracité #émotions #corps #traces_corporelles #preuves #trauma #traumatisme #stress #victimisation #confiance #stéréotypes

    ping @isskein @karine4 @_kg_ @i_s_

  • Lettre de Barbara Glissant, Karine Mousseau et Valérie Fallourd à propos des agressions subies de la part de Marc Pulvar.

    « Nous parlons pour libérer la parole des autres victimes d’inceste en Martinique »
    > Intéressante intervention qui évoque aussi la question des inégalités sociales en matière de justice.

    Inceste en Martinique : « on vit avec nos agresseurs » dénonce Fabienne Sainte-Rose, victime d’abus sexuels

    Pour mémoire, pour celleux qui n’ont jamais entendu parler de Marc Pulvar.
    Marc Pulvar était un « leader charismatique »

    Et toujours la question de l’allongement de la #prescription (qui (me) pose plein de questions contradictoires). (Les auteures de la lettre ont d’abord dénoncé ces crimes au sein de leur famille, puis ont porté plainte - mais la plainte n’a pu aboutir pour cause de prescription)

    #pedocriminalité #martinique #memoire #trauma #inceste

    • Leur lettre.

      Marc Pulvar (1936-2008), héros martiniquais, pédocriminel et violeurA l’âge de 7 et 10 ans, nos routes ont croisé celle d’un homme. Il était professeur de mathématiques. On l’encense aujourd’hui encore en Martinique, parce qu’il a été un militant, syndicaliste, défenseur des opprimés. Peut-être que cela n’est pas incompatible avec le fait d’être pédocriminel après tout. La perversité n’empêche sans doute pas de réfléchir. Mais quarante ans plus tard, nous nous demandons encore comment il a pu être professeur. Car vouloir aider un individu à devenir le sujet qu’il choisira d’être, tenter de le comprendre patiemment, en déchiffrant ses humeurs, en acceptant ses écarts, en s’agaçant de sa lenteur, de sa rapidité, en s’émerveillant de ses fulgurances, en riant de ses plaisanteries, en fulminant parce qu’il n’est jamais reconnaissant, ne dit pas merci en partant, et parfois même pas bonjour en arrivant, oui c’est cela être professeur, c’est apprendre de l’autre, humblement, et lui tendre la main, même quand on n’en a pas envie.Deux d’entre nous sommes devenues professeures à notre tour, l’une de sciences économiques et sociales et l’autre de philosophie. Quand Marc Pulvar a abusé de nous, nous étions trop petites pour penser à tout cela. C’était l’oncle de la famille, le favori, adulé déjà, par tous. Une confiance totale, qui dure encore aujourd’hui de manière posthume, et que nous avons décidé de briser, une fois pour toutes. Cela suffit. En finir avec cette héroïsation du personnage, ne plus jamais lui rendre un quelconque hommage à l’avenir et désormais penser à lui comme il le mérite : Marc Pulvar, alias Loulou pour les intimes, était un prédateur sexuel. Les vacances d’été du tout début des années 1980 ont été pour nous le théâtre de ses exactions, particulièrement le camping sauvage sur l’une des plus belles plages de la Martinique, où il avait la gentillesse de nous emmener, avec la reconnaissance attendrie de nos proches. Dès le départ, une première ruse : nous installer derrière le siège conducteur pour pouvoir de la main gauche commencer ses caresses pendant qu’il conduisait, pas de temps à perdre, en cachette de la personne assise à la place du mort. Reconnaissons qu’au moins nous échappions, pour un temps, à cette place.Il faut vous décrire les faits, et en rester là. C’est très difficile. Essentiellement parce que nos enfants vont nous lire. Impossible de les faire souffrir, eux qui nous ont sauvés et à qui on dédie ce texte. Nos enfants vont lire jusqu’au bout, avec émotion mais en confiance, car ils ont eu de bons professeurs, en classe et ailleurs, ils savent donc que le silence tue.Oui, en finir avec le silence, il faut donc parler, mais attention nous dit-on, il faut rester factuel, pour qu’on nous croie d’abord. C’est la première étape, la plus salvatrice. Etre crues. En la matière, les faits sont donc importants, ceux-là même que l’on ressasse une vie entière, au détour de rien, à la moindre occasion, à chaque seconde en fait, les faits qui se rappellent à nous, dans la solitude, la honte, la culpabilité qui étouffent. Mais comment vous parler d’eux sans vous parler du reste ?Le reste c’est la vie, celle que nous avons construite malgré tout, celle qui a surgi malgré les dépressions, tentatives de suicide, amnésies post-traumatiques. Cette force que l’on sent toutes les trois en nous aujourd’hui, que l’on a mis quarante ans à consolider, grâce à l’amour de quelques-uns, c’est aussi de cela dont nous voudrions parler. Nous aurions pu ne jamais parvenir à le faire. Longtemps il s’est agi surtout pour nous les victimes de survivre. Alors parler n’était pas l’urgence ... Il faut se construire d’abord. On avance, et la confiance en l’autre s’installe. Nos rencontres nous ont sauvées. Parler a été possible peu à peu, grâce à ceux, si précieux, capables d’entendre. Finalement nous nous sommes retrouvées aussi toutes trois. Nous voulons vous dire, nos chers enfants, nos chers êtres aimés, vous êtes nos héros, car avec vous, la vie a pu commencer.Parler, Marc Pulvar le faisait très bien lui. Un grand orateur syndicaliste, un militant exemplaire qui défendait sans relâche la cause des colonisés exploités, aux Prud’hommes où il brillait, dans ses réunions politiques, devenues des modèles pour certains politiciens martiniquais d’aujourd’hui, une « figure » dans l’histoire de ce pays, notre pays. Marc Pulvar, le héros, savait parler. Mais quand Marc Pulvar parlait aux petites-filles, il s’y prenait autrement. Et cette histoire là il faut la connaitre. Il leur parlait doucement oui, comme si de rien n’était, pendant qu’il mettait ses mains dans leur culotte, les masturbait. Il parlait si doucement que tout semblait normal. Il transpirait quand même beaucoup, émotion, peur d’être découvert, nous ne nous le demandions pas à l’époque, mais trouvions juste très désagréable cette odeur de bête. Il avait l’art de nous isoler, de nous faire penser que nous étions l’élue. Combien de bains de mer seules avec lui, il aimait nous
      porter et nous caresser sous l’eau, à quelques mètres d’adultes aveuglés. La nuit, quand nous voulions faire pipi, il nous accompagnait gentiment hors de la tente, et fixait le faisceau de lumière de sa lampe torche directement sur notre sexe. On trouvait cela étrange, moins efficace pour éloigner les crabes. Il n’hésitait jamais, toute occasion était bonne à prendre, et même les rencontres aux domiciles de nos parents ou de notre grand-mère. Souvent, il réunissait tous les cousins, dans la maison prêtée par la famille qui l’aimait tant, et là, il retrouvait son rôle de professeur : apprenons les bases élémentaires du secourisme, disait-il. Il choisissait l’une ou l’autre, souvent l’une en fait, et c’était parti pour la leçon de bouche à bouche.

      - Barbara Glissant, Karine Mousseau et Valérie Fallourd

    • j’avoue que l’imprescriptibilité ça fait aussi le yoyo chez moi. Là par exemple je me dit que la plupart des personnes qui arrivent à parler sont des gens pour qui c’est prescrit. Et que les enquêtes bloquent là-dessus, alors que parfois, par exemple pour lévêque, les types sont encore vivant et dangereux, avec des gosses autour d’eux. Donc ça pourrait débloquer ça. j’imagine que c’est l’argument principal. Si ça pouvait s’appliquer de manière rétroactive... cad à partir de maintenant et pour tout le monde (aucune idée des problèmes que ça peut poser).

      Mais reste quand même le fait (il me semble encore) que ça ne bloque pas à cause de mauvaise lois, en vrai, mais parce que y a pas de thunes pour gérer tous les dossiers. Et rajouter une loi ne changera rien à ça.

      Sur cui-cui, ça fait le parallèle avec la loi sur la pénalisation des clients de la prostitution, portée par, il me semble encore, les mêmes assos que celles qui portent l’imprescriptibilité et le truc du seuil d’âge, manipulé sans vergogne par EDM soit dit en passant, qui s’achète à coup de com’ et de surenchère je ne sais pas quoi, mais qu’on ne va pas tout de même pas remercier une seconde...

      Merde ça y est je me suis perdu.

      Enfin, quand même, ça sent l’enfumage tout ces trucs, me semble encore ;)

    • C’est normal de se perdre dans cette question, l’argument de l’allongement c’est les découvertes sur le fonctionnement de la mémoire traumatique... Je me demande si ça peut suffire, of course, pour allonger ad vitam la prescription, qui me semble par ailleurs une notion de droit importante. Après, les moyens de la justice c’est encore autre chose. L’omerta généralisée, pour moi c’est le soucis. Le pouvoir adulte aussi, et ça se règle pas au tribunal, ça. Les procès, c’est pour protéger les autres, comme elles l’expliquent aussi, pas forcément pour obtenir justice pour quelque chose d’irreparable. La prison, c’est une parenthèse, ces gens ressortent ensuite, ça aussi ça me rend dingue, la question de la peine. Tu purges ta peine, et puis normalement, c’est fini. Mais avec zéro soin, des groupes de paroles de perpretateurs qui ne fonctionnent pas car ils ne reconnaissent pas le problème, on fait quoi ? Perpète pour tous ? Et qu’est-ce qu’on fait des inégalités face à la justice qui font que pour les mêmes faits, la classe sociale d’origine des criminels, leurs moyens pour payer leur défense va influer (la durée de) la condamnation. Y’a pas de solution évidente avec un système judiciaire exhangue, ça donne mal au crâne de ne penser qu’en terme policier... même si à ce stade, c’est un peu tout ce qui est disponible avec les soins aux victimes.

    • l’argument de l’allongement c’est les découvertes sur le fonctionnement de la mémoire traumatique...

      tiens une note sur la construction de l’identité de victime, par un autre prisme que celle de la mémoire traumatique (je m’y reconnais plus perso, j’ai pas eut d’amnésie, enfin je crois pas) :

      dans les deux cas, ça prend trois plombes en tout cas...

      Et oui, ceux qui parlent abritent leurs soeurs et leurs frères.

    • « Non, il ne m’est pas venu à l’idée de dénoncer mon père. Ce n’était pas à moi de le faire, et je ne savais pas que je savais. Ces choses-là ne se font pas en 24 heures, c’est un peu plus complexe que ça, surtout pour les victimes. Je suis là pour dire à tous ceux qui pensent que l’action de mes cousines serait une manœuvre politique, soit pour m’atteindre moi soit pour abîmer la mémoire de mon père, qu’ils ont tort. »

  • L’inceste heureux de Dupond-Moretti

    Mi-janvier, Christine Angot a évoqué l’affaire d’inceste dans lequel deux femmes violées dès leurs 10 ans s’étaient rangées du côté de leur père, jugé pour viols. L’une avait finalement eu un enfant avec lui : un « inceste heureux », plaidait alors Éric Dupond-Moretti, avocat des parties civiles et actuel ministre de la Justice. Ce que l’on a oublié depuis, c’est que la fille qui vivait en concubinage avec son père est peu à peu parvenue à se défaire de son emprise et a décidé de le quitter deux ans après le procès, en 2014. Désaveu intolérable pour l’intéressé : il a finalement pourchassé et assassiné sa fille, ainsi que l’homme chez qui elle avait trouvé refuge.

    #inceste #viol #féminicide #dupond-moretti #Affaire_Mannechez

    • J’ai pas d’abonnement et pourtant je peu le lire ...
      je colle quand meme

      Un inceste peut-il (vraiment) être consenti ?
      Ariane Nicolas publié le 05 février 2021 9 min

      Les révélations de Camille Kouchner sur l’inceste dont son frère a été victime suscitent une vague d’émotion médiatique et de « libération de la parole », mais aussi des débats. Christine Angot, elle-même victime d’inceste, a rappelé que le ministre de la Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti avait défendu en 2012 une affaire d’inceste dit « consenti » entre un père et sa fille. Mais cette expression a-t-elle un sens ? L’inceste n’est-il pas, par nature, une forme de violence sexuelle ? Éclairage sur ce croisement de notions, l’inceste et le consentement, au cœur de douloureux débats de société.

      « Nous étions amoureuses. » Telle est l’argumentation choisie en 2012 par deux sœurs pour défendre leur père, jugé aux assises pour des viols répétés sur elles depuis leurs 10 ans. L’accusé avait eu un enfant avec l’une d’elles alors qu’elle était majeure, et seule la mère (jugée pour complicité) assurait qu’elles étaient sous emprise. Les avocats du père, en concorde avec la partie civile, avaient plaidé « l’inceste heureux ». L’homme avait écopé d’une peine minimale, deux ans ferme.

      L’écrivaine Christine Angot, elle-même victime d’inceste dans son enfance, a rappelé ce procès sur France Inter pour mettre en cause cette idée d’un possible « consentement à l’inceste ». Une telle chose existe-t-elle vraiment ? Un inceste n’est-il pas, par nature, une violence faite à quelqu’un, même consentant en apparence ?
      « La sexualité infantile n’a rien à voir avec la sexualité adulte »

      L’article 222-31-1 du Code pénal indique que les viols et agressions sexuelles « sont qualifiés d’incestueux » lorsqu’ils sont commis sur un mineur par un parent au premier degré ou son conjoint : père, mère, frère, sœur, oncle, tante, nièce, neveu. Au regard de la loi, ce sont donc uniquement les mineurs qui doivent être mis à l’abri de l’inceste ; contrairement à l’Allemagne ou à l’Italie, la France ne condamne pas deux membres d’une même famille majeurs ayant des rapports sexuels (apparemment) consentis. Si la formulation a été revue en 2016, avec l’introduction du terme « incestueux », le principe de la législation est inchangé depuis 1810.

      Il semble loin le temps où des intellectuels comme Foucault, Barthes ou Beauvoir critiquaient cette loi en défendant dans une tribune la liberté sexuelle de l’enfant. Comment en est-on venu à sanctuariser ainsi la sexualité des petits ? « Il y a sans doute eu un moment d’égarement dans les années 1970, avec l’idée qu’il fallait lever tous les interdits, analyse Clotilde Leguil, psychanalyste et autrice de l’ouvrage Céder n’est pas consentir (PUF, à paraître en mars 2021). Car pour la psychanalyse, l’inceste relève toujours d’un traumatisme. Il transgresse ce qui permet à un enfant et à un sujet de se constituer : l’apprentissage de la parole et de la confiance, le fait d’être confronté à des limites par rapport à sa jouissance, la possibilité de s’ouvrir à l’autre. »

      Les cas cliniques d’enfants victimes d’inceste indiquent que le traumatisme sexuel peut se manifester jusqu’à très tard chez l’adulte, certains souvenirs ne se manifestant qu’à la faveur d’événements particuliers. La fille aînée de Richard Berry, Coline Berry-Rotjman, qui accuse son père d’agressions sexuelles lorsqu’elle était enfant, assure que c’est lorsque la nouvelle compagne de son père (alors âgé de 64 ans) s’est retrouvée enceinte au même moment qu’elle que le traumatisme a ressurgi : « Ça a explosé pour moi, à ce moment-là. Ça a rejoué quelque chose de totalement incestueux », a-t-elle confié au Monde.

      Un des problèmes posés par l’idée d’un consentement des enfants, selon Clotilde Leguil, « c’est l’instrumentalisation de ce consentement au service de la pulsion de l’adulte. La sexualité infantile dont parle Freud n’a rien de commun avec la sexualité adulte. Elle est justement ce qui préfigure le désir à venir qui ne pourra être assumé par l’adolescent que depuis une possibilité de dire ’Je’ et de s’orienter dans une vie amoureuse et sexuelle en dehors de sa famille. » Lorsque la pulsion de l’adulte s’impose à l’enfant, ce dernier « est réduit à l’état d’objet de jouissance, ce qui n’a rien à voir avec le fait d’être sujet d’un désir ». C’est pour cette raison que la rencontre avec l’interdit de l’inceste est constitutive du désir, selon la psychanalyse. « L’enfant découvre que le désir amoureux et sexuel lui permettra de s’ouvrir vers un ailleurs. Un parent qui transgresse cet interdit met en péril le psychisme de l’enfant. »

      La traduction juridique de la distinction entre pulsion et désir est délicate. À quel âge se produit-elle ? Une proposition de loi débattue en ce moment au Parlement prévoit de fixer un seuil de non-consentement à 13 ans. Cette mesure criminaliserait automatiquement tout acte sexuel commis avant cet âge. Les jurés n’auraient ainsi plus à établir le non-consentement d’un enfant de moins de 13 ans : cela éviterait par exemple qu’un homme ayant eu un rapport sexuel avec une fille de 11 ans ne ressorte libre du tribunal, comme cela s’est récemment produit. Autre avantage de cette loi, elle éviterait que des affaires de viols sur mineurs ne soient requalifiées en atteinte ou en agression sexuelle (infractions moindres, car ce sont des délits et non des crimes), comme c’est parfois le cas aujourd’hui.
      L’impossible « rencontre » avec le parent…

      Dans Une Semaine de vacances (Flammarion, 2012), terrifiant récit de l’inceste qu’elle a subi dans sa jeunesse, Christine Angot montre à quel point il est difficile pour un enfant de dire « non » à son père. Lors d’un voyage cauchemardesque dans le sud de la France, la jeune fille est contrainte à des actes sexuels dont on sent, à la lecture, qu’elle les vit de manière totalement dissociée, comme si elle était absente à son propre corps. Tandis que son père ponctue ses viols par d’irréelles déclarations d’amour, elle tente de trouver un subterfuge pour échapper à ses assauts : « Elle projette pour le lendemain matin, pendant le petit déjeuner, au moment où il prendra sa première cigarette, dans la cuisine, de lui demander comme preuve d’amour qu’il n’y ait pas de gestes physiques de toute la journée. » La proposition faite, le père acquiesce. Puis il la viole de nouveau peu après.

      Dans sa grande perversité, l’agresseur glisse à sa fille que de toutes les « rencontres » amoureuses qu’il a faites, c’est de loin elle qu’il préfère. Or, relève Clotilde Leguil, il n’y a précisément pas de « rencontre » dans le cas d’un rapport sexuel entre un parent et un enfant, puisque l’adulte est déjà là, de tout temps : « Le désir, c’est l’aventure de la sexualité comme rencontre avec un autre. Cet événement peut comporter des surprises, des jubilations comme des déceptions. Mais il n’y a rien de commun entre ce type de rencontre et “la mauvaise rencontre”, dont parle Lacan, et qui n’est rien d’autre chez lui que le traumatisme. » Les écrits de Christine Angot « mettent en évidence que l’immonde dans l’inceste, c’est aussi une abolition de la rencontre avec l’autre », commente Clotilde Leguil.
      …Et la nécessaire possibilité de la rupture

      De même que la rencontre, c’est aussi la possibilité de l’adieu qui doit être ouverte dans une relation : la perspective de dire non ne doit pas comporter un tel risque, que la personne ne peut jamais se résoudre à partir. La philosophe Geneviève Fraisse l’explique bien dans son livre Du consentement (Seuil, 2007) : « L’autonomie du consentement se forge dans la dynamique de la séparation. Le consentement individuel s’exprime plus clairement dans le désaccord que dans l’accord. » Lorsque la relation est asymétrique, comme dans le cas de l’inceste parent-enfant, une telle décision est impossible à prendre. Christine Angot, « Victor » Kouchner et tant d’autres perdraient mille fois plus à dire non à leur (beau-)père, qu’eux à les voir déserter. L’enfant est donc piégé.

      Mi-janvier, Christine Angot a évoqué l’affaire d’inceste dans lequel deux femmes violées dès leurs 10 ans s’étaient rangées du côté de leur père, jugé pour viols. L’une avait finalement eu un enfant avec lui : un « inceste heureux », plaidait alors Éric Dupond-Moretti, avocat des parties civiles et actuel ministre de la Justice. Ce que l’on a oublié depuis, c’est que la fille qui vivait en concubinage avec son père est peu à peu parvenue à se défaire de son emprise et a décidé de le quitter deux ans après le procès, en 2014. Désaveu intolérable pour l’intéressé : il a finalement pourchassé et assassiné sa fille, ainsi que l’homme chez qui elle avait trouvé refuge. La violence des représailles (ici un meurtre, mais cela peut être des menaces répétées ou un chantage au suicide) souligne la difficulté de se sortir d’une situation aussi dangereuse.

      D’un point de vue philosophique, l’inceste indique qu’il n’existe pas de liberté réelle entre deux personnes en situation d’inégalité. L’égalité est la condition de la liberté. Dans la huitième de ses Lettres écrites de la montagne (1764), Rousseau soutient cette idée, d’un point de vue politique : « Il n’y a point de liberté sans lois, ni où quelqu’un est au-dessus des lois : dans l’état même de nature, l’homme n’est libre qu’à la faveur de la loi naturelle qui commande à tous. » Un parent qui transgresse la prohibition de l’inceste se met justement au-dessus des lois, alors même qu’il est censé non seulement respecter mais faire respecter cet interdit. Quelles que soient ses justifications, il empêche donc son enfant d’être véritablement libre.
      L’abîme de l’inceste tardif

      Il existe également des cas – rares – où l’inceste est consommé lorsque les deux personnes sont adultes. Peut-il alors y avoir consentement ? L’histoire d’Anaïs Nin, femme de lettres du début du XXe siècle qui évoque ses expériences sexuelles dans son journal, pose la question. Du 23 juin au 2 juillet 1933, l’autrice alors âgée de 30 ans et son père ont des rapports sexuels qu’elle juge consentis. Tandis qu’elle couche par écrit que « Père, c’est moi-même », il s’enthousiasme symétriquement : « Tu es la synthèse de toutes les femmes que j’ai aimées. » La jubilation n’est toutefois pas entière. Anaïs Nin, qui a beaucoup souffert de l’absence de son père petite, est consciente de l’ambivalence de son désir : « Le manque d’amour de mon père et son abandon demeurent indélébiles. Pourquoi cela n’a-t-il pas été effacé par toutes les amours que j’ai inspirées depuis lors ? »

      Pour Fabienne Giuliani, historienne rattachée à l’EHESS qui a épluché des centaines de dossiers judiciaires liés à des incestes, cet exemple illustre les ambiguïtés de la notion de consentement : « On se demande parfois si ce désir affiché n’est pas une intériorisation de la part des victimes pour soulager la violence qu’elles ont subie depuis toutes petites, explique-t-elle. Il ne faut pas oublier que l’inceste représente, outre une violence sexuelle, de genre et générationnelle, une violence affective : les enfants aiment toujours leurs parents. Ils ne savent pas forcément comment se positionner, y compris une fois devenus adultes. »
      Des incestes moins sulfureux que d’autres ?

      Reste certaines situations où l’inceste semble davantage toléré. « Il faut distinguer l’inceste parent-enfant et l’inceste entre enfants du même âge, précise ainsi Clotilde Leguil. Ce dernier peut conduire à des interrogations, à partir de fortes angoisses, mais n’engendre pas le même effondrement psychique que lorsque le monde des adultes se fracture et que l’emprise d’un parent instrumentalise l’amour de l’enfant. » Fabienne Giuliani confirme que la justice s’est toujours montrée plus tolérante envers ces cas : « J’ai vu beaucoup d’affaires impliquant des couples frères-sœurs. Sauf exception, ces derniers n’étaient pas jugés pour viols, mais pour infanticide. » D’après le Code civil, les enfants nés de ces unions ne peuvent en effet bénéficier d’une reconnaissance officielle, ce qui a pu conduire à des actes meurtriers.

      Depuis 1810, certaines lignes ont donc bougé. Les dispenses de mariage ou de parenté, qui permettent de reconnaître de façon dérogatoire une union ou une naissance proscrite, ne sont plus accordées avec autant de largesse, surtout quand l’écart d’âge est important : « Au XIXe, il existait encore des cas où des beaux-pères demandaient d’épouser leur belle-fille, par exemple. C’était souvent accordé quand des enfants étaient nés de ces unions, pour qu’ils soient reconnus. » Aujourd’hui, la jurisprudence a intégré qu’entre un parent biologique et un parent adoptif, comme entre Olivier Duhamel et « Victor » Kouchner, c’était le même type d’ascendant, et donc la même gravité des faits. En revanche, la jurisprudence évolue en sens inverse pour les relations entre frères et sœurs : en 2017, la justice a reconnu la double filiation d’une fillette de 8 ans née d’un frère et d’une sœur. Une décision exceptionnelle, prise au nom de l’intérêt de l’enfant.

      Le fait que le Code pénal autorise de fait certains types d’inceste, tant qu’aucune violence sexuelle n’est commise, jette quelque peu le trouble sur cet interdit millénaire. En Europe, seules la France, l’Espagne et le Portugal sont aussi libérales en la matière. Comme Christine Angot, Clotilde Leguil alerte ainsi sur le risque qu’il y aurait à parler « d’inceste consenti » : « Quand on commence à utiliser ce genre de formules, on brouille totalement le statut fondateur de l’interdit de l’inceste et le traumatisme sexuel et psychique qu’il représente. Adosser ce mot de consentement à l’inceste, c’est une contradiction dans les termes. »

    • Ce procès d’Amiens, Me Murielle Bellier, conseil des autres enfants, le décrira comme « un cirque ». Le grand Dupont-Moretti est censé représenter les parties civiles : il plaide en fait pour le père . En défense, Me Hubert Delarue évoque un « inceste heureux ». On le lui reprochera, mais il n’a fait que citer un psychiatre. On en oublierait presque que si la cadette des violées a alerté les gendarmes (après trois avortements), c’est qu’elle s’inquiétait que son père regardât « d’un drôle d’air » la dernière petite fille de la maison.


    • Le pénaliste de renom qui défendait Virginie et Betty est, en effet, plus habitué à être de l’autre côté : il s’agissait d’Eric Dupond-Moretti.

      Cette fois, « Acquitator » jouait contre son camp, pour ainsi dire. En face, il y avait Hubert Delarue, un compère. L’avocat attitré de Denis Mannechez, un temps également défendu par Franck Berton. Bref, le trio célèbre et célébré ayant défendu les acquittés d’Outreau.

      Betty se souvient :
      ""Quand je suis allé voir Dupond-Moretti avec Virginie, il a appelé devant nous Delarue, l’avocat de mon père. Il disait, bon, allez, on va voir ce que dit Bébert [Hubert Delarue, NDLR]"."

      La partition était déjà écrite. Ce serait « l’inceste consenti ». Quelle affiche !

      Jean-Luc Viaux cite alors Cocteau :
      ""Quand Cocteau adapte ’Œdipe Roi’, il appelle sa pièce ’La Machine infernale’. Car, un inceste, c’est ça. Dans cette tragédie, tout est écrit d’avance et quoi qu’on fasse, on avance vers cette issue fatale. Cassandre le prédit. Mais on n’aime jamais écouter les Cassandre.""


    • De rien @colporteur mais je voie pas ou tu trouve de la psychanalyse dans cet article, il y a des féministes, des historiennes, des anthropologues, des pénalistes, des juristes, des philosophes, des écrivaines et écrivains qui sont cités mais je voie pas de psychanalystes cité, je les aient peut être ratés. Et le tag #sexualité_infantile pour l’inceste je comprend pas... surtout que c’est la première fois qu’il est utilisé sur seenthis. Qu’est ce que tu veux dire avec ce tag ? Pour toi l’inceste c’est de la sexualité d’enfants ou tu veux dire que les incesteurs sont infantils ?

      edit - je viens de comprendre que c’est ca qui t’as interessé et que tu tag ce lieu commun « La sexualité infantile dont parle Freud n’a rien de commun avec la sexualité adulte. » ca aurais été mieux de cité freud dans cet article car il parle des gosses comme de « pervers polymorphe » expression très culpabilisante qui faisait bien l’affaire des incesteurs et de leurs complices.

    • Je trouve cet article intéressant pour l’ensemble des approches qu’il convoque et que tu signales @mad_meg ! (moins pour le juridique).

      Je me demandais effectivement sans l’écrire car ça semble banal et que j’ai rien de particulier à en dire de quel degré d’infantilisme il faut relever pour commettre des violences incestueuses (et/ou des violences sexuelles).

      bien d’autres # seraient possibles, j’ai tagué psy pour ce que dit Clotilde Leguil

      « l’inceste (...) transgresse ce qui permet à un enfant et à un sujet de se constituer : l’apprentissage de la parole et de la confiance, le fait d’être confronté à des limites par rapport à sa jouissance, la possibilité de s’ouvrir à l’autre. (...) Le désir, c’est l’aventure de la sexualité comme rencontre avec un autre. (...) [l’inceste] une abolition de la rencontre avec l’autre ».

    • Je sais pas si c’est dans ce texte que je l’ai lu mais beaucoup d’incesteurs sont des hommes habitués à traité les autres comme des objets et de s’en servir comme bon leur semble. Ils se servent sur place sans avoir besoin de se fatigué. Ils ont envie de sexe et prennent ce qu’ils ont sous la main, disposant des enfants comme si c’etait leur propriété. Comme les mecs qui consomment les prostituées en disant que ca leur coute moins cher que de payé un resto.
      Les incesteurs sont aussi souvent des auteurs d’autres formes de violences contre les femmes, les animaux non-humains, le voisinage et ils sont respecté pour cela car c’est un des attributs de la virilité. D’un coté je comprend qu’on les traitent d’infantils mais d’un autre ca sous entend que les enfants disposeraient des autres comme si c’etait des objets. Alors qu’en fait c’est plutot l’éducation des garçons et des hommes entre eux qui leur apprend à ne plus avoir d’empathie, à ne pas pleuré comme des filles, à se comporté en homme qui ne fait pas dans le sentimentalisme et se sert de ce qu’il à envie comme bon lui semble.

      Il y a aussi une entreprise de destruction profonde des victimes, jusqu’au fond de leur être, d’ou le fait qu’on s’attaque prioritairement aux filles afin de les rendre dominables tout le long de leur vie. Il y a un lien avec la fabrique des prostituées qui sont très souvent survivantes de l’inceste. Sur cela aussi mon incesteur partait ou revenais souvent de chez les prostituées lorsqu’il m’agressait. Je te recommande ce mémoire posté par @gata - https://seenthis.net/messages/896563 : L’inceste : anthropologie d’une entreprise de démolition systématique de la personne : ▻http://sophia.perrin.free.fr/memoireM1public.htm

    • Son récit, dont la violence tranche avec le calme et la douceur parfois mielleuse de sa voix, est celui d’un homme qui dit qu’il veut guérir du mal qui le ronge, mais qui continue à chercher des excuses pour ce qu’il a fait. Séquence enrageante que celle où il évoque sa vie sexuelle insatisfaisante avec sa femme pour justifier les attouchements faits à sa fille.

      Heureusement, Alexandre Mognol recadre l’homme : « Mais là t’es pas en train de dire que c’est de la faute de ta femme ? » demande-t-il, en le mettant face à ses contradictions. « Ma femme n’y est pour rien, elle avait ses besoins, elle assumait de ne pas avoir de besoins sexuels, donc je ne lui jette pas la faute. Seulement moi j’aurais dû à un moment dire stop, dire que moi j’avais des besoins. [...] C’est comme si à la maison, j’avais une attirance très forte pour ma femme, et il y avait aussi ma fille qui devenait adolescente, qui s’habillait de manière assez sexy, et bah elle était aussi un objet de désir. Elle créait du désir en moi, que je ne pouvais pas réaliser sous la forme de relation sexuelle avec ma femme. Donc j’avais une marmite qui était déjà en train de bouillir [...] et cette marmite à un moment donné a explosé », répond David.

      (pas encore écouté)

    • Je connaissait pas l’étymologie d’inceste ;

      Le mot inceste vient du latin incestum : souillure , à rapprocher de incesto : rendre impur 12.


      J’aurais du m’en douté tout ce qui se rapporte au sexe consenti ou pas est sale, « toutes des salopes ». Ca me fait pensé aussi au mot vierge, qui veux dire « sans souillure » avec l’idée que les filles non vierges sont salies dès qu’un sexe masculin les pénètre, que ca soit celui d’un père ou pas, n’y change pas grand chose si on en crois l’etymologie....

      edit une autre source renvoie au sacrilège -

      INCESTE, subst.

      Étymol. et Hist. A. Fin du xiiies. « relations sexuelles entre proches parents » (Hystore Job, éd. J. Gildea, 871). B. 1. a) Fin du xives. adj. « qui a commis un inceste » (E. Deschamps, Œuvres, VI, 146, 12 ds T.-L.) ; b) 1524 emploi subst. « personne qui a commis un inceste » (P. Gringore, Le Blason des hérétiques ds Œuvres complètes, éd. Ch. d’Héricault et A. de Montaiglon, t. 1, p. 332) ; 2. ca 1480 « qui constitue un inceste » (Myst. du V. Testament, éd. J. de Rothschild, 5407). A empr. au lat. class. incestum « sacrilège ; inceste ». B empr. au lat. incestus adj. « sacrilège ; incestueux ».


      Sacrilège :

      SACRILÈGE2, adj. et subst. masc.

      Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1283 subst. « personne qui profane les choses sacrées » (Philippe de Beaumanoir, Coutumes Beauvaisis, éd. A. Salmon, t. 1, p. 160) ; 2. 1528 adj. « qui a le caractère du sacrilège » (Papiers d’État du Cardinal de Granvelle, éd. Ch. Weiss, t. 1, p. 454). Empr. au lat.sacrilegus (de sacra, neutre plur. de sacer, au sens de « objets sacrés » et legere « ramasser, recueillir »), d’abord « voleur d’objets sacrés » puis « profanateur, impie ».


      PROFANER, verbe trans.

      Étymol. et Hist. 1342 prophaner « violer la sainteté des choses sacrées » (Renart le Contrefait, éd. G. Raynaud et H. Lemaître, I, 258) ; 1538 (Est., s.v. profanus Profaner. Se servir en communs usages des choses consacrees). Empr. au lat. profanare « rendre à l’usage profane (une chose, une personne qui a été auparavant consacrée) » et « souiller ».


      SOUILLER, verbe trans.

      Étymol. et Hist. 1. Déb. xiies. part. prés. adj. soilans « qui souille, qui déshonore » (Voc. hébraïco-français, 887, éd. A. Neubauer ds Romanische Studien, I, p. 189) ; ca 1155 souillier « tacher, couvrir de boue » (Wace, Brut, éd. I. Arnold, 11486) ; 1821 « polluer, altérer l’état d’asepsie » (Fourier ds Doc. hist. contemp., p. 159) ; 2. 1remoit. xiies. suiller fig. « violer un traité » (Psautier Cambridge, 54, 22 ds T.-L.) ; 1176-81 « altérer, salir quelque chose qui aurait dû être respecté » (Chrétien de Troyes, Chevalier Charrete, éd. M. Roques, 4388) ; 1636 souiller ses mains de sang innocent « faire mourir un innocent » (Monet) ; 1668 souiller le lit de son bienfaiteur (La Fontaine, Vie d’Esope le phrygien, p. 19). De l’a. fr. soil, souil (v. souille1) ; dés. -er.

      Deshonnorer - dis+honorer -

      Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1remoitié xes. « rendre hommage par des marques de respect » (St Léger, éd. J. Linskill, 45) ; 2. « faire honneur, procurer de l’honneur » (Escoufle, 4 ds T.-L.) ; 3. 1723 honorer [une lettre de change] (Savary, Dict. de comm. ds FEW t. 4, p. 464b), cf. faire honneur* à [id.]. Empr. au lat.honorare « honorer, rendre hommage ; gratifier ; orner ».


      Ca tourne en rond

    • Il ne faut pas oublier que l’inceste représente, outre une violence sexuelle, de genre et générationnelle, une violence affective : les enfants aiment toujours leurs parents. Ils ne savent pas forcément comment se positionner, y compris une fois devenus adultes. »

      une illustration (horrible) de ce truc :


      I read some years ago about a study in which a mother chimpanzee was fitted with a harness that had knives sticking out; her babies were released into her presence; trying to embrace her they were cut; the more cut they were the more they tried to hold tight to her; the more they were hurt the more they wanted their mother. The research itself is repug­nant, but the terrifying story of what happened during it strikes me as an accurate parable of a child’s love, blind love, and desperate need. Remembering and forgetting are aspects of needing and loving, not rulers of what the heart does or does not know. Those who say children are lying when they remember as adults abuse they endured as children are foolish- as are those who think children categorically do not know when they’ve been hurt.

      et oui merci pour ce texte @mad_meg

    • juste trop bien qu’angot remette le moretti à sa juste place, parce qu’on était limite à le remercier de faire passer la loi sur les 13 ans hein... Cette meuf a essuyé un nombre de plâtre pas possible j’ai l’impression, ça me donne envie de lire ses bouquins.

    • J’ai trouvé émouvant dans l’article l’essai d’articuler liberté, égalité et fragilité.

      Il me semble que les petits enfants s’essayent à disposer des autres comme des objets, ils essayent tout, puis apprennent à ne pas faire. Dans la relation, et par là d’eux-mêmes.

      L’enfant est pas épargné par l’infantile (ça tourne mal, par épisodes ; et il le faut !) mais il est aussi poète, intellectuel, métaphysicien etc., plus « polymorphe » en effet. Chez l’adulte, c’est comme si l’infantile était souvent le seul reste d’une enfance perdue.

      De ce que je sais de la confiance des enfants, belle, déraisonnable, on fait ce qu’on peut pour sans que ce soit trop angoissant leur annoncer et leur confirmer que ça marche pas avec tous les bipèdes.

      L’inceste, « consenti » ou pas, c’est (aussi) un abus de confiance au carré.

      Ça fait pas de l’inceste un « crime contre l’humanité » (faudrait du groupal, prémédité, et que ça tue, littéralement) ou « contre l’enfance ». Le crime contre l’enfance, c’est nos sociétés qui font du jeu une distraction, une illusion, la concurrence.
      C’est pas une catégorie juridique (et tant mieux), le crime contre le devenir.

    • Tellement pas d’accord avec ça

      Reste certaines situations où l’inceste semble davantage toléré.

      Euh … attends, par qui ? la société ou les victimes ? Mais en fait la société n’en a cure des victimes, jamais, et certainement pas dans cette société capitaliste. L’agression sexuelle y est adorée.
      Donc, je suis furieuse quand je vois qu’il est possible de dire que c’est toléré entre enfants. Un frère qui viole sa sœur, et en général que les parents couvrent en tout cas, ne peuvent dénoncer, c’est seulement là le lieu où jamais la justice ne peut se faire. Ça ne veut pas dire que ça n’existe pas. Et je crois avoir vu passer que justement c’est à cet endroit qu’il est le plus difficile d’agir. Non pas par tolérance, (quelle idée) mais parce que la fillette dans des familles nourries de code napoléonien hé ben, ça vaut rien.

      « Il faut distinguer l’inceste parent-enfant et l’inceste entre enfants du même âge, précise ainsi Clotilde Leguil. Ce dernier peut conduire à des interrogations, à partir de fortes angoisses, mais n’engendre pas le même effondrement psychique que lorsque le monde des adultes se fracture et que l’emprise d’un parent instrumentalise l’amour de l’enfant. »

      Mais ils sont vraiment très bouchés ces psychanalystes. Ils ne veulent entendre qu’eux mêmes qui hiérarchisent les souffrances des autres. Mais bien sûr que le monde adulte se fracture pour une fillette violée par son frère quand il n’y a personne pour la défendre.

    • Sur l’expérience que rapporte @tintin dans son commentaire https://seenthis.net/messages/901458#message901542, je ne sais pas trop ce qu’elle raconte des singes qui en furent les victimes, mais elle est éclairante sur les humains qui l’ont imaginée. 😱

      J’ai quitté la biologie pour l’éthologie en grande partie pour l’approche respectueuse des éthologues de leurs sujets d’étude. Au labo, nous nous vantions de mettre en place des dispositifs «  tout confort  », tout en déplorant le fait que la captivité en elle-même n’est pas une bonne chose. Il était tout à fait possible de mettre en place un protocole qui n’avait pas pour principe d’être une boucherie.

    • Pas de souci @mad_meg je soulignais juste qu’employer le terme « tolérer » (donc acceptable) pour un viol est odieux. Je pense à M. fillette de 12 ans, violée par ses frères et retournée dans l’emprise de sa famille alors qu’elle l’avait signalé, son parcours terrifiant que je tais est l’échec de sa non prise en charge. Et c’est justement ce genre de propos entre deux lignes qui participent de cette tolérance sociale du viol dans la fratrie et qui fait que l’on n’y prête pas attention. Je n’ai vu aucune étude sur ces enfants mâles pour qui on tolère qu’ils violent leur sœurs, mais je suppose (pour l’avoir vu) qu’une fois adultes ils n’ont pas plus de compassion pour les femmes.
      Et pour celles devenues adultes, tomber sur ce genre de psy, un cauchemar qui se perpétue.

    • Oui @touti c’est une forme de violence qui n’est pas encore étudiée et qui est très rarement nommée au sein même des dénonciations des violences incestueuses. Le mot « toléré » est effectivement mal choisi. J’ai vu passé dans mes lectures récentes sur le sujet des remarque sur l’absence de prise en compte de ces violences dans les champs d’études. J’ai souvenir d’une sceance avec mon psy ou je me demandait ce qui pouvait passé par la tete des agresseur et ou il m’avait répondu par un exemple d’une petite fille violée par ses deux frères et j’ai été surprise par ma réaction de rejet de cette idée. Je n’ai malheureusement pas de ressources pour documenté ce sujet mais je vais m’efforcè de les mettre en avant lorsque j’en trouverait. Je compatie aux souffrances que doivent enduré ces victimes, invisibilisées dans l’invisible et silenciées dans le silence...

    • Oui @mad_meg c’est un angle mort de plus dans ce labyrinthe des dénis.

      Alice Debauche rapporte :

      L’ouvrage Virage* (disponible en librairie) donne le détail des auteurs pour les faits de violences sexuelles avant 18 ans. Pour les femmes, elles mentionnent leur oncle pour 20% d’entre elles, un homme proche de la famille pour 17%, leur père pour 14%, leur frère ou demi frère pour environ 10% et ou leur grand-père pour 6% environ.

      *Elizabeth Brown, Violences et rapports de genre


  • Au Centre Primo-Levi, on répare les âmes et les corps hantés par les violences et l’exil

    La France apporte aussi son lot d’embûches aux exilés. En 2020, l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (Ofpra) a rendu 24 % de décisions positives aux demandes d’asile. Même les patients du centre peinent à convaincre, quand il leur faut produire un récit clair et structuré, notamment lors d’audiences de moins de deux heures, truffées de questions piégeuses.« La torture, qui entraîne la dissociation, les amnésies et des récits mécaniques, induit des effets contre-productifs par rapport à ce qui est demandé par l’administration », estime Hélène Bonvalot, directrice générale du centre. Les psychologues le confirment : les rendez-vous à l’Ofpra provoquent des pics d’angoisse chez les patients.
    « Les motivations de refus sont souvent les mêmes », constate Aurélia Malhou, responsable juridique du centre, chargée de 150 dossiers individuels. En guise d’exemple, elle empoigne le dernier refus, reçu la veille : « sommaire et imprécis », « description brève », faits « pas clairement exposés », indique la décision administrative. « Une fois notifié le rejet de leur demande, leur vie s’effondre », s’inquiète la juriste. Une vie sur le fil du rasoir, plus chancelante encore ces derniers mois, où la crise sanitaire a freiné les démarches et vidé les garde-manger. « Le confinement a aggravé la situation psychologique de nombreux patients, marqués par des reviviscences traumatiques de leur incarcération passée. Il a aussi dégradé plus encore leur situation économique », s’alarme Mme Bonvalot, dont les équipes ont maintenu le lien, à distance, au printemps 2020.
    Selon les soignants, la précarité du quotidien, associée à l’impact des épreuves endurées sur le chemin de l’exil, peut enfouir la mémoire des sévices originels. « D’autant qu’on note une dégradation des chemins de l’exil, avec un délai plus long – parfois cinq, voire six ans – entre le départ et l’arrivée en France », note le psychologue Armando Cote.


  • ’I’m certain that people have died here’ – German doctor talks about his experience treating migrants in Bosnia

    Aid workers are increasingly alarmed about the worsening situation of the some 1,500 migrants stuck in northwest Bosnia, hundreds of whom are staying in abandoned buildings and makeshift forest settlements with little access to aid. InfoMigrants spoke with German streetwork doctor Gerhard Trabert about his patients’ physical and mental health, a lack of cooperation at the expense of the migrants and what ought to happen next.

    Over the past 20 years, Gerhard Trabert has done no fewer than 34 medical aid missions abroad in countries and hotspots including Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Lesbos.

    In 1998, the German doctor and social worker founded the aid organization “Armut und Gesundheit in Deutschland” ("Poverty and Health in Germany"), whose medical streetwork approach is to seek out homeless people so they get access to health care. For his accomplishments and services, he received Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit in 2004 and was named professor of the year in 2020, among other awards.

    Trabert’s latest mission took him to northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the living conditions of the some 1,500 migrants stranded in the Una-Sana canton are becoming increasingly miserable and dangerous. For months, they have been staying there without access to the most basic necessities.

    Despite not receiving an official permit to deliver medical care, Trabert and his team managed to treat some 170 people in Bihać, the administrative center of the Una-Sana canton, and several other hotspots in the region over the course of eight days.

    InfoMigrants spoke to the 64-year-old in mid-January, three days after he returned from his trip to Bosnia. The interview, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, was conducted by InfoMigrants’ Benjamin Bathke.


    InfoMigrants: The experiences you had in Bosnia must still be very present. What is going through your mind now that you’re back in Germany?

    Gerhard Trabert: Seeing people living in ruins without access to food, water and medical care at freezing temperatures in shabby blankets and mattresses, who make open fire to somehow keep warm; seeing the migrant camp Lipa that’s still not functioning — all this makes (you) melancholic, sad and angry because these conditions shouldn’t, they mustn’t exist; and Europe is failing to act.

    It’s bizarre that only a ten-hour car drive away from my home, it almost feels like being almost in another world. It also feels bizarre how different and incommensurate priorities can be: While protective measures against COVID-19 are being discussed in Germany, none of these measures exist for migrants and refugees in Bosnia. People complain about not being able to go skiing this winter while migrants live in cold and damp huts full of snow and mud.

    All week long we had sub-zero temperatures. After spending three hours in one of the dwellings, we were chilled to the bone. Of course we were able to go where it’s warm afterwards, but the notion that these people are living in these conditions 24/7 is unfathomable. It’s hard to convey these things if you haven’t seen them with your own eyes or sensed it with your own body, if only temporarily.


    Can you tell us why you decided to go to Bosnia and what your mission looked like, broadly speaking?

    It was a very spontaneous decision after watching all the media reports. We drove down there with two mobile clinics and had contact with our Bosnian partner organization SOS Bihać upfront. We tried to get a permit but decided we could no longer wait and must give it a try. Our vehicles are rolling consulting rooms equipped with an examination couch, medical equipment, medicine, dressing material, and so on. After waiting at the Croatian-Bosnian border for six hours, we were allowed to cross the border, but without our vehicles. A few hours later, we were told we couldn’t go anywhere because of the curfew in Bosnia, so they brought us to a nearby accommodation. The next day, it took another five hours to finally enter Bosnia with our vehicles and drive to Bihać.

    Our team of five consisted of two nurses, two social workers and myself in the role of a physician. We had brought high-quality, suitable material including sleeping bags usable for down to -15°C, sleeping pads, hygiene articles like diapers and toilet paper and warm underwear. We weren’t able to use our mobile clinics, especially in the first few days, because SOS Bihać told us police would come immediately if we show up at a hotspot with the vehicles. So we put as much as we could in our backpacks and walked to the hotspots.

    One of those hotspots you described on Facebook is the run-down four-story building in Bihać of what you say used to be an elderly care facility. What did you experience there?

    We saw more than 100 Pakistani and Afghan men staying there in the freezing cold, most of them between the ages of 20 and 40. We went from floor to floor, introduced ourselves and offered help. It was so dark we had to use flash lights and headlamps at all times. There was this biting smoke everywhere from the open fireplaces they used to keep somewhat warm and cook food.

    Around one in three people had some kind of injury that required medical attention. We treated lots of cases of scabies, which causes bacteria to enter the wound through itching. Fortunately, we had brought special salves and medication needed to treat scabies, which a local pharmacy didn’t have. Many people had respiratory diseases and problems with their digestive organs like gastritis due to the cold and their general living conditions. We also saw skin wounds and severe open wounds as well as typical stress disorders like high blood pressure. During our second visit, we changed the bandages.

    Experiencing people forced to live like this was very intense. Some people told us they had been staying in the building for over a year, one even said it’s been three years. They occasionally try to cross the border, get pushed back and return to the ruin.


    What do the surroundings of the ruin look like?

    It’s a hotspot in the middle of the city, next to a river. The distance to our apartment in Bihać, which has a population of around 50,000, was only 200 meters. During the day, people were out and about in the city for a while and received some food at kiosks. I saw some shovel snow, so perhaps they received some money in exchange. But a regular care concept for these people doesn’t exist. Drinking water, groceries, sanitary facilities — the migrants are more or less dependent on themselves.

    I also noticed protests by locals, but we were told those Bosnians weren’t against refugees and migrants per se but against illegal hotspots. They called for accommodating and providing for them instead of living in the middle of Bihać by the hundreds. But it seems that nobody on the Bosnian side feels responsible for providing for them.

    What about the NGOs — to what extent can they alleviate the suffering?

    My impression after a week on the ground is that there was no real cooperation, interconnectedness or communication between the NGOs. We even sensed some competition. It’s a scrap for power and competence, and many things happened in a very uncoordinated way.

    Regarding Bosnian authorities, there are conflicts between the Una-Sana canton and the capital Sarajevo. Overall, the different players didn’t look at who has which resources, who can take on which task, and so on. I perceived the situation as absolute bleak. And I do have to say that this imbroglio was wanted from the side of Bosnian authorities, which didn’t surprise me as I know it from my time on Lesbos, where the Greek, but also the EU authorities acted similarly: Signaling time and again to the people that they were not welcome there. So I assume chaos is part of the strategy.

    How does the group dynamics among the migrants staying in the hotspots look like? Are there hierarchies and tensions?

    From my experience on the ground in Bosnia, but also from missions in other countries, I must say that there is a hierarchy among the different nationalities. Syrians usually hold the top spot, followed by Afghans, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and northern African countries like Morocco. Why? Because Syrians have the best shot at receiving asylum. Migrants there know exactly how Europe reacts. This hierarchy sometimes manifests in violent confrontations — we treated stab wounds, for instance. Moroccans and Algerians told us they couldn’t go to groups from other countries without getting sent away. There are some mixed groups, including people from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Moroccans and Algerians.

    What can you tell us about people’s mental health?

    Please allow me to make a short scientific digression. There are three forms of traumatization, primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary and secondary cases occur when people suffer from violence directly or observe others becoming the victim of violence, respectively. My point is about the tertiary form of traumatization, or sequential traumatization. It means that a person with a primary or secondary trauma — and that includes all the 1,500 people in northwest Bosnia — who isn’t received with respect, who isn’t able to share their experiences with others, who isn’t listened to or shown empathy, also suffers from tertiary traumatization. The tragic thing about this third form is that it is graver than the first two because only then does the trauma become chronic; only then they have flashbacks, anxieties, sleep disorders, depressions, panic attacks and heightened risk of suicide. All this means that the way we treat those people leads to another, active traumatization. And you can feel it when you talk to talk to them.

    Speaking of suicides, you said in a recent interview that you “wouldn’t be surprised if people died here”. What made you arrive at this conclusion?

    We were told there were bears and wolves in the woods in the Una-Sana canton that have attacked and killed migrants in the past, as well as many wild dogs that have bitten many of them. We treated one person with a bite wound from a dog, which is extremely dangerous because of the certain kind of germs in that wound. If such a wound isn’t treated with antibiotics, his life is in danger. We gave him a special antibiotics. He also had a swollen, infected hand. I cannot imagine that nobody has died yet — and dies — in these conditions. The question is how deaths are dealt with, and I believe they are swept under the rug. If you look at the living conditions as well as the diseases and illnesses of these people with a bit of common sense, I’m certain that people have died.

    On your Facebook page, you also wrote about treating small children.

    In Bosanska Bojna, a small village north of Bihać directly on the border with Croatia, a contact who was shooting a film there had met 20 families who lived in ramshackle houses and ruins with their infants and toddlers. We were able to drive there with our mobile clinics because there were no controls. We treated infections, inflammations of the middle ear, which unless it is treated can lead to meningitis. It seemed that the children there were well cared for by and large, but it’s always difficult to tell because children being able to suppress many things fairly well means it’s not easy to see the scars and wounds on their souls.

    Many had stomach aches and nausea, which could stem from the hygienic conditions, but could also be an indicator for a psychosomatic component. Children can also get depression, but the symptoms are different from those in adults: Most of the time, children are very nervous or hyperactive. Oftentimes, this is interpreted as attention deficit disorder, when it is in fact a depression. One sees that time and again among migrant children: Being hyperactive or reclusive, which I also saw in Bosanska Bojna. Partly no talking and no eye contact, nothing. Symptoms like these are always signs for psychic traumatization.

    What did you hear about violent push backs at the hand of Croatian police?

    We have seen many wounds on arms and legs that might well have been caused by beatings. Many call trying to cross the borders “Game” — they go back time and again in the hope to eventually encounter Croatians who allow them into the country.

    Calling it “Game” — is that some kind of coping strategy or black humor?

    I think it speaks to an optimism bias that’s especially prevalent in situations of extreme stress like the one migrants in northwest Bosnia are in. They perceive and describe their situation much more positive than it objectively is. This also manifests in their language, so “Game” is a trivialization to suppress the brutality of the experience a bit. Optimism bias also applies to their general situation and their health conditions, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to act in their situation or survive. It’s astounding what the body and the psyche do in order to deal with such life-threatening situations.

    Why do so many people choose to live outside of the camp in Lipa?

    Lipa is located at 750 meters in an area hostile to life. It is surrounded by wood, and it’s cold and windy there. There is no infrastructure nearby. The village of Lipa is hours away by foot, and you have to use a dirt road for two kilometers to reach the camp. It’s obvious that the location of the camp emphasizes to the people: “You are not welcome here, and we kind of don’t care what happens to you.”

    That’s why people look for opportunities elsewhere like in Bihać, where they might get some kind of assistance or earn some money by working somewhere. So they use former factories, the ruins of the said elderly care facility or the so-called jungle camp in Velika Kladuša, where we also treated people. These hotspots are everywhere because there is no real care concept, like I said before. So people try to create a certain amount of ’free space’ for themselves they can shape more actively — notwithstanding all the other deprivations, because hardly anybody goes to those spaces and brings food and water.

    From your perspective, what needs to happen now to help migrants in northwestern Bosnia?

    My principal claim is to evacuate all of the people there and distribute them among EU member states. It’s possible, we can achieve it and it needs to happen. Their living conditions are not in keeping with human rights and are inhumane. We cannot wait for all of Europe to go along with this. There’s a shift to the right across Europe, toward nationalism and racism, which I also see in this debate. We have to take a stand, and German needs to lead the way.

    Right this moment we need to conceptually organize how medical care can be provided. This needs to happen immediately. The EU alongside Bosnia needs to show where money is invested in a transparent way. At Lipa, we need tents that protect people from all kinds of weather. We also need a hygiene concept and sanitary facilities. All of this is possible — the containers can be brought there and be installed quickly. Moreover, we need a real interconnectedness and cooperation between the different organizations, and ideally a UN organization like UNHCR at the helm that brings together all the different players and decides who does what and where. My impression is that the Bosnian authorities are overburdened and ill-suited, which has something to do with the old wounds and still existent power struggles and rivalries from the Bosnian war.

    Will you go back to Bosnia and Herzegovina in case you receive the permission from the Bosnian authorities to deliver medical aid?

    Yes, in that case we would go back there, at least with one mobile clinic. We would then deliver medical aid in cooperation with others and might leave the vehicle in Bosnia long-term, perhaps by lending it to a different NGO to use free of charge like we’re doing right now in Sicily with an Italian NGO.

    #route_des_Balkans #Bosnie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Balkans #santé_mentale #violence #Gerhard_Trabert #Lipa #hiver #froid #neige #Bihać #hotspot #hotspots #traumatisme #the_game #game #camp_de_réfugiés

  • Le néo-populisme est un néo- libéralisme

    Comment être libéral et vouloir fermer les frontières ? L’histoire du néolibéralisme aide à comprendre pourquoi, en Autriche et en Allemagne, extrême droite et droite extrême justifient un tel grand écart : oui à la libre-circulation des biens et des richesses, non à l’accueil des migrants.


    –-> je re-signale ici un article publié dans AOC media qui date de 2018, sur lequel je suis tombée récemment, mais qui est malheureusement sous paywall

    #populisme #libéralisme #néo-libéralisme #néolibéralisme #fermeture_des_frontières #frontières #histoire #extrême_droite #libre-circulation #migrations #Allemagne #Autriche

    ping @karine4 @isskein

    • #Globalists. The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

      Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, #Quinn_Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

      Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions—the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law—to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

      Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it.


      #livre #empire #WTO #capitalisme #Friedrich_Hayek #Ludwig_von_Mises #Wilhelm_Röpke #Michael_Heilperin #Etat #Etat-nation #marché #inégalités #injustice #OMC

    • Quinn Slobodian : « Le néolibéralisme est travaillé par un conflit interne »

      Pour penser les hybridations contemporaines entre néolibéralisme, #autoritarisme et #nationalisme, le travail d’historien de Quinn Slobodian, encore peu connu en France, est incontournable. L’auteur de Globalists nous a accordé un #entretien.

      L’élection de Trump, celle de Bolsonaro, le Brexit… les élites des partis de #droite participant au #consensus_néolibéral semblent avoir perdu le contrôle face aux pulsions nationalistes, protectionnistes et autoritaires qui s’expriment dans leur propre camp ou chez leurs concurrents les plus proches.

      Pour autant, ces pulsions sont-elles si étrangères à la #doctrine_néolibérale ? N’assisterait-on pas à une mutation illibérale voire nativiste de la #globalisation_néolibérale, qui laisserait intactes ses infrastructures et sa philosophie économiques ?

      Le travail de Quinn Slobodian, qui a accordé un entretien à Mediapart (lire ci-dessous), apporte un éclairage précieux à ces questions. Délaissant volontairement la branche anglo-américaine à laquelle la pensée néolibérale a souvent été réduite, cet historien a reconstitué les parcours de promoteurs du néolibéralisme ayant accompli, au moins en partie, leur carrière à #Genève, en Suisse (d’où leur regroupement sous le nom d’#école_de_Genève).

      Dans son livre, Globalists (Harvard University Press, 2018, non traduit en français), ce professeur associé au Wellesley College (près de Boston) décrit l’influence croissante d’un projet intellectuel né « sur les cendres de l’empire des Habsbourg » à la fin de la Première Guerre mondiale, et qui connut son apogée à la création de l’#Organisation_mondiale_du_commerce (#OMC) en 1995.

      À la suite d’autres auteurs, Slobodian insiste sur le fait que ce projet n’a jamais été réductible à un « #fondamentalisme_du_marché », opposé par principe à la #puissance_publique et au #droit. Selon lui, l’école de Genève visait plutôt un « #enrobage » ( encasement ) du #marché pour en protéger les mécanismes. L’objectif n’était pas d’aboutir à un monde sans #frontières et sans lois, mais de fabriquer un #ordre_international capable de « sauvegarder le #capital », y compris contre les demandes des masses populaires.

      Dans cette logique, la division du monde en unités étatiques a le mérite d’ouvrir des « voies de sortie » et des possibilités de mise en #concurrence aux acteurs marchands, qui ne risquent pas d’être victimes d’un Léviathan à l’échelle mondiale. Cela doit rester possible grâce à la production de #règles et d’#institutions, qui protègent les décisions de ces acteurs et soustraient l’#activité_économique à la versatilité des choix souverains.

      On l’aura compris, c’est surtout la #liberté de l’investisseur qui compte, plus que celle du travailleur ou du citoyen – Slobodian cite un auteur se faisant fort de démontrer que « le #libre_commerce bénéficie à tous, même sans liberté de migration et si les peuples restent fermement enracinés dans leurs pays ». Si la compétition politique peut se focaliser sur les enjeux culturels, les grandes orientations économiques doivent lui échapper.

      L’historien identifie dans son livre « trois #ruptures » qui ont entretenu, chez les néolibéraux qu’il a étudiés, la hantise de voir s’effondrer les conditions d’un tel ordre de marché. La guerre de 14-18 a d’abord interrompu le développement de la « première mondialisation », aboutissant au morcellement des empires de la Mitteleuropa et à l’explosion de revendications démocratiques et sociales.

      La #Grande_Dépression des années 1930 et l’avènement des fascismes ont constitué un #traumatisme supplémentaire, les incitant à rechercher ailleurs que dans la science économique les solutions pour « sanctuariser » la mobilité du capital. Les prétentions au #protectionnisme de certains pays du « Sud » les ont enfin poussés à s’engager pour des accords globaux de #libre_commerce.

      L’intérêt supplémentaire de Globalists est de nous faire découvrir les controverses internes qui ont animé cet espace intellectuel, au-delà de ses objectifs communs. Une minorité des néolibéraux étudiés s’est ainsi montrée sinon favorable à l’#apartheid en #Afrique_du_Sud, du moins partisane de droits politiques limités pour la population noire, soupçonnée d’une revanche potentiellement dommageable pour les #libertés_économiques.

      Le groupe s’est également scindé à propos de l’#intégration_européenne, entre ceux qui se méfiaient d’une entité politique risquant de fragmenter le marché mondial, et d’autres, qui y voyaient l’occasion de déployer une « Constitution économique », pionnière d’un « modèle de gouvernance supranationale […] capable de résister à la contamination par les revendications démocratiques » (selon les termes du juriste #Mestmäcker).

      On le voit, la recherche de Slobodian permet de mettre en perspective historique les tensions observables aujourd’hui parmi les acteurs du néolibéralisme. C’est pourquoi nous avons souhaité l’interroger sur sa vision des évolutions contemporaines de l’ordre politique et économique mondial.

      Dans votre livre, vous montrez que les néolibéraux donnent beaucoup d’importance aux #règles et peuvent s’accommoder des #frontières_nationales, là où cette pensée est souvent présentée comme l’ennemie de l’État. Pourriez-vous éclaircir ce point ?

      Quinn Slobodian : Quand on parle d’ouverture et de fermeture des frontières, il faut toujours distinguer entre les biens, l’argent ou les personnes. Mon livre porte surtout sur le #libre_commerce, et comment des #lois_supranationales l’ont encouragé. Mais si l’on parle des personnes, il se trouve que dans les années 1910-1920, des néolibéraux comme #von_Mises étaient pour le droit absolu de circuler.

      Après les deux guerres mondiales, cette conception ne leur est plus apparue réaliste, pour des raisons de #sécurité_nationale. #Hayek a par exemple soutenu l’agenda restrictif en la matière de #Margaret_Thatcher.

      Même si l’on met la question de l’immigration de côté, je persiste à souligner que les néolibéraux n’ont rien contre les frontières, car celles-ci exercent une pression nécessaire à la #compétitivité. C’est pourquoi l’existence simultanée d’une économie intégrée et de multiples communautés politiques n’est pas une contradiction pour eux. De plus, une « #gouvernance_multiniveaux » peut aider les dirigeants nationaux à résister aux pressions populaires. Ils peuvent se défausser sur les échelons de gouvernement qui leur lient les mains, plus facilement que si on avait un véritable #gouvernement_mondial, avec un face-à-face entre gouvernants et gouvernés.

      Cela pose la question du rapport entre néolibéralisme et #démocratie

      Les néolibéraux voient la démocratie de manière très fonctionnelle, comme un régime qui produit plutôt de la #stabilité. C’est vrai qu’ils ne l’envisagent qu’avec des contraintes constitutionnelles, lesquelles n’ont pas à être débordées par la volonté populaire. D’une certaine façon, la discipline que Wolfgang Schaüble, ex-ministre des finances allemand, a voulu imposer à la Grèce résulte de ce type de pensée. Mais c’est quelque chose d’assez commun chez l’ensemble des libéraux que de vouloir poser des bornes à la #démocratie_électorale, donc je ne voudrais pas faire de mauvais procès.

      Les élections européennes ont lieu le 26 mai prochain. Pensez-vous que l’UE a réalisé les rêves des « globalists » que vous avez étudiés ?

      C’est vrai que la #Cour_de_justice joue le rôle de gardienne des libertés économiques au centre de cette construction. Pour autant, les règles ne se sont pas révélées si rigides que cela, l’Allemagne elle-même ayant dépassé les niveaux de déficit dont il était fait si grand cas. Plusieurs craintes ont agité les néolibéraux : celle de voir se développer une #Europe_sociale au détriment de l’#intégration_négative (par le marché), ou celle de voir la #monnaie_unique empêcher la #concurrence entre #monnaies, sans compter le risque qu’elle tombe aux mains de gens trop peu attachés à la stabilité des prix, comme vous, les Français (rires).

      Plus profondément, les néolibéraux sceptiques se disaient qu’avec des institutions rendues plus visibles, vous créez des cibles pour la #contestation_populaire, alors qu’il vaut mieux des institutions lointaines et discrètes, produisant des règles qui semblent naturelles.

      Cette opposition à l’UE, de la part de certains néolibéraux, trouve-t-elle un héritage parmi les partisans du #Brexit ?

      Tout à fait. On retrouve par exemple leur crainte de dérive étatique dans le #discours_de_Bruges de Margaret Thatcher, en 1988. Celle-ci souhaitait compléter le #marché_unique et travailler à une plus vaste zone de #libre-échange, mais refusait la #monnaie_unique et les « forces du #fédéralisme et de la #bureaucratie ».

      Derrière ce discours mais aussi les propos de #Nigel_Farage [ex-dirigeant du parti de droite radicale Ukip, pro-Brexit – ndlr], il y a encore l’idée que l’horizon de la Grande-Bretagne reste avant tout le #marché_mondial. Sans préjuger des motivations qui ont mené les citoyens à voter pour le Brexit, il est clair que l’essentiel des forces intellectuelles derrière cette option partageaient des convictions néolibérales.

      « L’hystérie sur les populistes dramatise une situation beaucoup plus triviale »

      De nombreux responsables de droite sont apparus ces dernières années, qui sont à la fois (très) néolibéraux et (très) nationalistes, que l’on pense à Trump ou aux dirigeants de l’#Alternative_für_Deutschland (#AfD) en Allemagne. Sont-ils une branche du néolibéralisme ?

      L’AfD est née avec une plateforme ordo-libérale, attachée à la #stabilité_budgétaire en interne et refusant toute solidarité avec les pays méridionaux de l’UE. Elle joue sur l’#imaginaire de « l’#économie_sociale_de_marché », vantée par le chancelier #Erhard dans les années 1950, dans un contexte où l’ensemble du spectre politique communie dans cette nostalgie. Mais les Allemands tiennent à distinguer ces politiques économiques du néolibéralisme anglo-saxon, qui a encouragé la #financiarisation de l’économie mondiale.

      Le cas de #Trump est compliqué, notamment à cause du caractère erratique de sa prise de décision. Ce qui est sûr, c’est qu’il brise la règle néolibérale selon laquelle l’économie doit être dépolitisée au profit du bon fonctionnement de la concurrence et du marché. En ce qui concerne la finance, son agenda concret est complètement néolibéral.

      En matière commerciale en revanche, il est sous l’influence de conseillers qui l’incitent à une politique agressive, notamment contre la Chine, au nom de l’#intérêt_national. En tout cas, son comportement ne correspond guère à la généalogie intellectuelle de la pensée néolibérale.

      Vous évoquez dans votre livre « l’#anxiété » qui a toujours gagné les néolibéraux. De quoi ont-ils #peur aujourd’hui ?

      Je dirais qu’il y a une division parmi les néolibéraux contemporains, et que la peur de chaque camp est générée par celui d’en face. Certains tendent vers le modèle d’une intégration supranationale, avec des accords contraignants, que cela passe par l’OMC ou les méga-accords commerciaux entre grandes régions du monde.

      Pour eux, les Trump et les pro-Brexit sont les menaces contre la possibilité d’un ordre de marché stable et prospère, à l’échelle du globe. D’un autre côté figurent ceux qui pensent qu’une #intégration_supranationale est la #menace, parce qu’elle serait source d’inefficacités et de bureaucratie, et qu’une architecture institutionnelle à l’échelle du monde serait un projet voué à l’échec.

      Dans ce tableau, jamais la menace ne vient de la gauche ou de mouvement sociaux, donc.

      Pas vraiment, non. Dans les années 1970, il y avait bien le sentiment d’une menace venue du « Sud global », des promoteurs d’un nouvel ordre économique international… La situation contemporaine se distingue par le fait que la #Chine acquiert les capacités de devenir un acteur « disruptif » à l’échelle mondiale, mais qu’elle n’en a guère la volonté. On oublie trop souvent que dans la longue durée, l’objectif de l’empire chinois n’a jamais consisté à étendre son autorité au-delà de ses frontières.

      Aucun des auteurs que je lis n’est d’ailleurs inquiet de la Chine à propos du système commercial mondial. Le #capitalisme_autoritaire qu’elle incarne leur paraît tout à fait convenable, voire un modèle. #Milton_Friedman, dans ses derniers écrits, valorisait la cité-État de #Hong-Kong pour la grande liberté économique qui s’y déploie, en dépit de l’absence de réelle liberté politique.

      Le débat serait donc surtout interne aux néolibéraux. Est-ce qu’il s’agit d’un prolongement des différences entre « l’école de Genève » que vous avez étudiée, et l’« l’école de Chicago » ?

      Selon moi, le débat est un peu différent. Il rappelle plutôt celui que je décris dans mon chapitre sur l’intégration européenne. En ce sens, il oppose des « universalistes », partisans d’un ordre de marché vraiment global construit par le haut, et des « constitutionnalistes », qui préfèrent le bâtir à échelle réduite, mais de façon plus sûre, par le bas. L’horizon des héritiers de l’école de Chicago reste essentiellement borné par les États-Unis. Pour eux, « l’Amérique c’est le monde » !

      On dirait un slogan de Trump.

      Oui, mais c’est trompeur. Contrairement à certains raccourcis, je ne pense pas que Trump veuille un retrait pur et simple du monde de la part des États-Unis, encore moins un modèle autarcique. Il espère au contraire que les exportations de son pays s’améliorent. Et si l’on regarde les accords qu’il a voulu renégocier, quels sont les résultats ?

      Avec le Mexique, on a abouti à quelque chose de très proche de ce qui existait déjà. Dans le débat dont j’ai esquissé les contours, il serait plutôt du côté des constitutionnalistes, avec des accords de proximité qui s’élargiraient, mais garderaient la Chine à distance. De façon générale, l’hystérie sur les populistes au pouvoir me semble dramatiser une situation beaucoup plus triviale, qui oppose des stratégies quant à la réorganisation de l’économie mondiale.

      Est-ce que le rejet de la Chine s’inscrit dans la même logique que les positions hostiles à l’immigration de Hayek en son temps, et de Trump ou des pro-Brexit aujourd’hui ? En somme, y aurait-il certains pays, comme certains groupes, qui seraient soupçonnés d’être culturellement trop éloignés du libre marché ?

      On retrouve chez certains auteurs l’idée que l’homo œconomicus, en effet, n’est pas universel. Les règles du libre marché ne pourraient être suivies partout dans le monde. Cette idée d’une altérité impossible à accommoder n’est pas réservée à des ressentiments populaires. Elle existe dans le milieu des experts et des universitaires, qui s’appuient sur certains paradigmes scientifiques comme le #néo-institutionnalisme promu par des auteurs comme #Douglass_North. Cette perspective suppose qu’à un modèle socio-économique particulier, doivent correspondre des caractéristiques culturelles particulières.

      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/culture-idees/100319/quinn-slobodian-le-neoliberalisme-est-travaille-par-un-conflit-interne #WWI #première_guerre_mondiale

  • EU policy ‘worsening’ mental health for refugees on Greek islands

    New research says more asylum-seekers stranded in EU’s ‘hotspot’ centres experiencing severe mental health symptoms.

    A prominent humanitarian group has warned of a worsening mental health crisis among asylum-seekers trapped at refugee camps on three Greek islands, saying its research reveals severe symptoms among people of all ages and backgrounds, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and self-harm.

    The International Rescue Committee (IRC), in a new report (https://www.rescue-uk.org/courage-to-continue) on Thursday, said nearly 15,000 people remain stranded at the European-Union funded Reception and Identification Centres, camps known as “hotspots” that were set up on Europe’s borders almost five years ago to swiftly process applications for asylum.

    Citing data collected from 904 asylum-seekers supported by its mental health programmes on the islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos, the IRC said one in three of its clients reported suicidal thoughts, while one in five reported having made attempts to take their lives.

    “I even tried to hang myself but my son saw me and called my husband,” Fariba, a 32-year-old Afghan woman, was quoted as saying. The mother of two young children lives in the Vathy camp in the island of Samos.

    “I think about death a lot here: that it would be a good thing for the whole family, that if I could add a medicine in our food and we all died it would be a deliverance. But then I look at my daughter and I think it is not her time yet,” she said.

    The hotspot centres were established up in 2015, when the Aegean islands, especially Lesbos, came under enormous pressure, with nearly a million refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe arriving on the Greek islands.

    In January of this year, the five camps together hosted more than 38,600 asylum-seekers – a number six times higher than the hotspots’ capacity. The number had reduced significantly by November, yet, asylum seekers still live under “inhumane” conditions and “in great distress, with limited access to food, water and sanitation,” read the report.
    ‘Alarming spike’

    On Lesbos, thousands of people live in a temporary camp after a fire burned down their overcrowded facility known as the Moria refugee camp. With winter in full swing, many people now live in tents battered by winds and flooding, the report said, adding an even deeper sense of exhaustion and frustration. On Sunday, the camp of Kara Tepe in Lesbos – where more than 7,000 people live – was flooded for the third time after three days of rain amid stormy weather conditions.

    Mohammad, a 23-year-old Syrian asylum seeker who fled the city of Idlib in 2019, told Al Jazeera how he is affected by depression and sleeping disorders.

    “How could my mental health not be affected? When you wake up and find a rat on your chest, when you are constantly waiting [for your legal status to proceed], when rain is pouring into your tent for days, you have no toilet but just garbage around you?” he said, asking his surname to be withheld as his second attempt to gain residency is under way.

    This is the second winter Mohammad has spent in a self-made wooden hut in what is known as “the jungle” in the island of Samos. The 600-people capacity camp, located on a hill, comprises of tents made out of recycled material and houses more than 3,000 people.

    Mohammad said there were high level of distress and constant fear of possible violent escalations among the residents of the camp. “We need some sort of improvement as it is getting difficult to control the anger,” he said.

    The coronavirus pandemic and the strict restrictions on movement has inflicted further blows.

    The IRC reported an “alarming spike” in the number of people disclosing psychotic symptoms following the pandemic, jumping from one in seven to almost one in four. There was also a sharp rise in people reporting self-harm, which jumped by 66 percent, as well as a surge in those reporting symptoms of PTSD, which climbed from close to half of clients beforehand to almost two in three people.

    These severe symptoms of mental health negatively affect people’s ability to cope with the many challenges they face at the hotspot centres, such as standing in line for hours to get food, or successfully navigate the complex asylum process, the report said.
    ‘Trauma of hotspot centres’

    “Such stressful situation triggers a sort of re-traumatisation,” said Essam Daod, a psychiatric and mental health director of Humanity Crew, an NGO providing first response mental health interventions to refugees in Samos.

    “You left home because you felt hopeless, unsafe and with a massive distrust with the system. You reached Europe and you start to stabilise your mood, but then COVID-19 destroyed all of this triggering the same feeling they had when they were fleeing their own country,” he said.

    IRC found that mental health issues can also cause high levels of stigma and discrimination, while increasing vulnerability to exploitation or violence, including sexual violence.

    Children are also bearing the brunt of the the worsening crisis.

    “When parents break down, it has a major impact on children,” said Thanasis Chirvatidis, a psychologist with Doctors Without Borders who has been working in Lesbos since August.

    Children perceive parents who experience psychological collapse as being unable to protect them, said Chirvatidis. The result is an increasing number of children are developing symptoms such as hopeless, insomnia, night terrors and regression symptoms as they go backwards at an earlier mental state where they had better memories and felt safer.

    All of the people in the hotspot centres – adult and children alike – “even those who had a sense of normalcy in their life before, at this point will need support in the future for sorting what they are going through here, which has now become a trauma itself,” said Chirvatidis.


    #Moria #santé_mentale #asile #migrations #réfugiés #îles #Lesbos #Mer_Egée #Grèce #traumatisme #trauma #hotspots #rapport

    ping @_kg_

    • Thousands of refugees in mental health crisis after years on Greek islands

      One in three on Aegean isles have contemplated suicide amid EU containment policies, report reveals

      Years of entrapment on Aegean islands has resulted in a mental health crisis for thousands of refugees, with one in three contemplating suicide, a report compiled by psychosocial support experts has revealed.

      Containment policies pursued by the EU have also spurred ever more people to attempt to end their lives, according to the report released by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on Thursday.

      “Research reveals consistent accounts of severe mental health conditions,” says the report, citing data collated over the past two and a half years on Lesbos, Samos and Chios.

      Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-harm “among people of all ages and backgrounds” have emerged as byproducts of the hopelessness and despair on Europe’s eastern borderlands, it says.

      “As many as three out of four of the people the IRC has assisted through its mental health programme on the three islands reported experiencing symptoms such as sleeping problems, depression and anxiety,” its authors wrote.

      “One in three reported suicidal thoughts, while one in five reported having made attempts to take their lives.”

      In a year upended by coronavirus and disastrous fires on Lesbos – about 13,000 asylum seekers were temporarily displaced after the destruction of Moria, the island’s infamous holding centre – psychologists concluded that the humanitarian situation on the outposts had worsened considerably.

      The mental health toll had been aggravated by lockdown measures that had kept men, women and children confined to facilities for much of 2020, they said.

      Previously, residents in Moria, Europe’s biggest refugee camp before its destruction, had participated in football games outside the facility and other group activities.

      Noting that the restrictions were stricter for refugees and migrants than those applied elsewhere in Greece, IRC support teams found a marked deterioration in the mental wellbeing of people in the camps since rolling lockdowns were enforced in March.

      “Research demonstrates how the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the suffering of already vulnerable asylum seekers and exposed the many flaws in Europe’s asylum and reception system,” the report says.

      Over the year there has been a rise in the proportion of people disclosing psychotic symptoms, from one in seven to one in four. Disclosures of self-harm have increased by 66%.

      The IRC, founded by Albert Einstein in 1933 and now led by the former British foreign secretary David Miliband, said the findings offered more evidence of the persistent political and policy failures at Greek and EU level.

      Five years after authorities scrambled to establish reception and identification centres, or hotspots, on the frontline isles at the start of the refugee crisis, about 15,000 men, women and children remain stranded in the installations.

      Describing conditions in the camps as dangerous and inhumane, the IRC said residents were still denied access to sufficient water, sanitation, shelter and vital services such as healthcare, education and legal assistance to process asylum claims.

      On Lesbos, the island most often targeted by traffickers working along the Turkish coast, government figures this week showed an estimated 7,319 men, women and children registered in a temporary camp erected in response to an emergency that has been blamed on arsonists.

      Three months after the fires, more than 5,000 people have been transferred to the mainland, according to Greek authorities.

      Of that number, more than 800 were relocated to the EU, including 523 children who had made the journey to Europe alone and were also held in Moria.

      Many had hoped the new camp would be a vast improvement on Moria, whose appalling conditions and severe overcrowding earned it global notoriety as a humanitarian disaster.

      But the new facility, located on a former firing range within metres of the sea, has drawn condemnation from locals and NGOs.

      “The winds hit it, the rains hit it and there’s no shade, which is why this place is unsuitable for any camp to be,” the island’s mayor, Stratis Kitilis, said.

      “It’s right next door to all the warehouses, transport companies and supermarkets that keep Lesbos going. No one wants it there.”

      This month the EU announced it was working with Athens’ centre-right administration to replace the installation with a modern structure that will open next September. New reception and identification centres will also be built on Samos, Kos and Lesbos. “They say it’ll be nothing like Moria and will be more of a transfer stop, but late next year is a very long time,” said Kitilis.

      Kiki Michailidou, the psychologist in charge of the IRC’s psychosocial support programmes on Lesbos, agreed that the conditions were far from dignified.

      As winter approached, camp residents were resorting to ever more desperate measures to keep warm, she said, while also being forced to stand in long queues for food and communal toilets.

      With camp managers moving families into giant tents, social distancing remains elusive. “A lot of people fear the unknown again,” Michailidou said.

      “Moria was terrible but it was also a familiar place, somewhere they called their home. After the fires they lost their point of reference and that has had a significant impact on their mental health too.”

      The IRC report calls for European policymakers to learn from past failings. While the EU’s new pact on asylum and migration is a step in the right direction, it says, it still falls short of the bloc managing migration in a humane and effective way.

      Echoing that sentiment, Michailidou said: “After the fires we saw what could happen. There were transfers to the mainland and children were relocated to other parts of Europe. That’s proof that where there’s political will and coordinated action, the lives of people in these camps can be transformed.”


  • La pandémie, un trauma au ralenti, santé mental[e] en danger ! Avec Franco «Bifo» Berardi.

    Distanciation sociale• Crédits : alvarez - Getty

    Avec Franco Berardi dit Bifo, philosophe et militant italien. Il publiera en juin 2021 chez Verso "The third unconscious - Subjectivity and sensibility in the pandemic threshold" (non encore traduit).

    Franco (dit « #Bifo ») Berardi est philosophe, théoricien de la culture et des médias et activiste politique. Né à Bologne, acteur de Mai 68, il a baigné dans les mouvements sociaux radicaux des 1970 en Italie. Issu du mouvement opéraïste italien initié en 1969 par Toni Negri, il a été une figure clé de la première radio libre en Italie (Radio Alice) et du magazine A/traverso, qu’il a fondé en 1975. Ayant fui à Paris, où il a travaillé avec Félix Guattari à l’élaboration de la théorie de la schizo-analyse. Il a contribué dans les années 1980 à Semiotexte (New York), à la revue fondée par Deleuze et Guattari, Chimères (Paris), à Metropoli (Rome) et à Musica 80 (Milan). Il est aujourd’hui professeur d’histoire sociale des médias à Milan.

    Avec l’arrivée du #coronavirus en Italie, il a publié en ligne un journal comportants ses observations et ses expériences personnelles des changements, au jour le jour, apportés par la pandémie. Selon lui, le virus a agi comme un révélateur de catastrophes présentes bien avant la pandémie, à commencer par la catastrophe environnementale. La pandémie serait un moyen de sortir du “cadavre” du capitalisme, comme il le nomme. Un système conjugant hégémonie néolibérale, nouvelles formes de fascisme et cybernétisation omnipotente. La sensibilité et l’affectivité humaines, l’empathie, en ressortent affectées, les liens de solidarité en pâtissent. 

    Un fait qu’empire le devoir de barrière physique induit par la pandémie. L’auteur note ainsi une sensibilisation phobique au corps de l’autre, aux lèvres, désormais dissimulées par le masque, et pour un temps qui semble devoir durer bien après cette crise. Il craint une forme d’autisme dans laquelle, même passée cette crise et de manière durable, on refuserait encore la présence de l’autre. En cette ère des pandémies, une nouvelle forme de névrose.

    #capitalisme #traumatisme #trauma_au_ralenti #dépression #subjectivités

  • (TW #viol, #pédocriminalité)
    [Edit : très certainement une source conspirationniste]

    Anneke Lucas

    #Anneke_Lucas is an author, speaker, advocate for child sex trafficking victims, founder of the non-profit organization Liberation Prison Yoga, and creator of the Unconditional Model.

    Her work is based on personal experience of a 30-year healing journey after surviving being sold by her family as a child sex slave to a pedophile network.

    Her healing through psycho-therapy, writing, yoga and meditation were synthesized during a decade of service with incarcerated populations and with survivors of sex trafficking and satanic ritual abuse inside and outside of prisons. Sharing her own healing shaped her message for personal and global evolution through the Unconditional Model, the mindfulness modality she developed.

    Anneke’s book “Seeds Beneath the Snow: Uncovering the Divine Feminine on the Path to Global Equality” is scheduled to be released in 2020. She is represented by Sam Hyate from the Rights Factory.

  • Documenter la douleur des autres : #souvenirs, #identités et #appartenance dans les imaginaires diasporiques des #Teochew

    La #mémoire_traumatique est un héritage avec lequel les descendants des #rescapés du #génocide_cambodgien doivent négocier pour trouver leur place dans une #histoire rompue, celle de leurs parents, et en France, pays où ils sont nés. Pour certains d’entre eux, l’#art et la #littérature sont un moyen de réparer les #blessures.

    La #migration s’accompagne invariablement d’une expérience de bouleversement, mais les circonstances du déplacement des #réfugiés du Cambodge – dont un nombre important de Chinois originaires du sud de la #Chine, les Teochew – équivaut à une réelle rupture. Le génocide mené par les #Khmers_rouges qui a anéanti près d’un quart de la population a laissé une génération dépourvue d’anciens et une fracture qui n’a pas été refermée quatre décennies plus tard. Pour les #réfugiés_cambodgiens, cette #séparation forcée est accentuée par l’apparente permanence de l’#exil. Comme pour tous les réfugiés et survivants cambodgiens, cette expérience du génocide est au cœur de la #mémoire_diasporique des Teochew, une mémoire déjà compliquée par l’histoire de #déplacements répétés (de la Chine au Cambodge et du Cambodge à la #France) et par un rapport ambivalent non seulement envers le Cambodge et son passé génocidaire mais aussi envers la Chine qui est restée silencieuse face à la persécution de ses diasporas.

    Comme mes recherches l’ont montré, ces histoires sont largement cryptées dans le #silence qui hante les familles de réfugiés, projetant les ombres du passé génocidaire à travers les générations. Les réflexions sur le travail de mémoire sino-cambodgien éclairent la relation entre lieux – de vie et d’appartenance –, mémoire et identité diasporique. Elles éclairent les conditions qui facilitent ou entravent la #transmission_intergénérationnelle ainsi que les luttes des générations post-réfugiées – celles qui n’ont pas vécu les #traumatismes mais qui sont néanmoins hantées par eux – pour récupérer cette histoire, et, à travers elle, leur place et leur appartenance à de multiples espaces de connexion.

    Ce texte fait référence aux prises de paroles de descendants de réfugiés cambodgiens (Jenny Teng, Mathieu Pheng et Lana Chhor) lors de la conférence « Générations Post-refugié.e.s » organisée à Sciences Po en décembre 2018. L’analyse de leur parole démontre à quel point le silence autour de la mémoire du génocide des Khmers rouges est un élément constitutif des identités des descendants nés et éduqués en France.

    Les générations post-génocide face au silence

    Dans ses réflexions sur le silence « post-génocide », Jenny Teng, cinéaste française d’origine cambodgienne Teochew, souligne qu’il existe « une culture du récit, de l’histoire, de la transmission des mots, qui est fondatrice de la diaspora et la culture juive » qu’on ne retrouve pas chez les Sino-cambodgiens, ce qui rend le témoignage encore plus difficile. Liant le silence à la honte et la culpabilité des survivants face à de telles violences et de telles pertes, elle note : « Les témoignages viennent ouvrir quelque chose qui était très secret. Et c’est peut-être parce que, dans ce secret, il y a une forme de culpabilité et une honte que ces enfants, que cette deuxième génération porte depuis l’enfance. » Pour Lana Chhor, auteure d’origine sino-cambodgienne, le silence engendre des effets dévastateurs non seulement « pour celui qui porte le silence mais aussi pour ceux à qui il est imposé. » Soulignant l’effet du silence qui, de manière simultanée, lie et fracture, elle compare la famille enveloppée par le silence à une « prison » où « chacun [se trouve] dans des cellules individuelles ». Les générations suivantes se retrouvent ainsi sans les outils nécessaires pour reconstruire et comprendre ces histoires et ces récits non seulement au sens linguistique mais aussi culturel et expérientiel. Comme le note Lana Chhor, « il est douloureux de grandir dans le silence car les mêmes questions reviennent, mais toujours sans réponses. »

    « Quelle place on donne aux disparus, aux défunts qui n’ont pas reçu de sépultures ? Les survivants ont en mémoire et au quotidien gardé une place, quelle est cette place ? »

    #Jenny_Teng, cinéaste et chercheure

    Le credo républicain de l’assimilation en France ne laisse pas de place à la pluralité des histoires, ce qui invisibilise non seulement les histoires des communautés diasporiques en France mais aussi les enchevêtrements de ces histoires avec l’histoire coloniale et post-coloniale de la France. Cet effacement permet à la France de ne considérer les réfugiés que comme des personnes à sauver et les politiques d’asile comme une action humanitariste plutôt que comme une responsabilité. Pour beaucoup, comme l’exprime Jenny Teng, le vide créé par l’inconnu et le non reconnu provoque un questionnement existentiel : « où se sent-on chez soi, physiquement, symboliquement ? » Pour les générations post-réfugiées, historiciser leur identité est donc un moyen d’affirmer leur humanité et individualité (personhood) et, comme le dit Lana Chhor, « d’enlever les étiquettes que la société nous met malgré nous ». En récupérant ces histoires enfouies et désavouées, ils récupèrent un lien avec un passé, et à travers ce passé une place dans le présent – au Cambodge, en Chine, en France – et une identité collective qui s’oppose à l’invisibilisation, à l’altérité, et à un « entre-deux » qui signifie essentiellement être à l’extérieur.
    Les générations post-génocide face à la mémoire

    Comme pour d’autres histoires traumatiques, avec le passage des générations, les questions de transmission et de conservation de la mémoire acquièrent une certaine urgence. Écrivant sur la transmission de la « tutelle de l’Holocauste », l’écrivaine Eva Hoffman décrit la deuxième génération comme « la génération charnière dans laquelle les connaissances reçues et transférées des événements sont transformées en histoire ou en mythe1. Comment les générations « postmémoire », ainsi que les appelle une autre écrivaine, Marianne Hirsch, reçoivent-elles et négocient-elles ces « expériences puissantes, souvent traumatisantes, qui ont précédé leur naissance mais qui leur ont pourtant été si profondément transmises qu’elles semblent constituer des souvenirs pleins ? » Comment raconter et aborder la « douleur des autres sans se l’approprier » comme la philosophe Susan Sontag l’a si bien décrit ? Et comment faire cela avec seulement des fragments de souvenirs, glanés ici et là, et à distance depuis son perchoir générationnel ? Quelles sont, le cas échéant, les négociations entre éthique et esthétique de la mémoire ?

    « Le credo républicain de l’assimilation en France ne laisse pas de place à la pluralité des histoires, ce qui invisibilise non seulement les histoires des communautés diasporiques en France mais aussi les enchevêtrements de ces histoires avec l’histoire coloniale et post-coloniale de la France. »

    Khatharya Um

    Significativement, à partir de leur « proximité distanciée », les générations post-réfugiées peuvent s’engager dans cette histoire traumatisante d’une manière impossible pour les survivants de la première génération. Les « entre-deux » spatiaux, temporels et générationnels, des lieux que #Mathieu_Pheng, documentariste d’origine franco-cambodgienne, décrit comme « les endroits où ça frictionne » – ne sont pas seulement des espaces de tension mais aussi de possibilité, où la distance générationnelle offre de nouvelles perspectives, un sentiment d’urgence renouvelé, où le créatif et le critique peuvent émerger des ruines de la guerre, du génocide et de l’exil. Pour Jenny Teng, qui centre ses œuvres sur cette notion d’« entre », la création est un pont entre le passé et le présent, et la caméra une fenêtre vers un passé douloureux qui « permet à la personne qui témoigne, de se constituer en témoin dans le sens premier, c’est-à-dire qu’elle va dire ce qu’elle a vu, ce qu’elle a connu pour l’inscrire dans l’histoire. Le documentaire a cette force-là, qui est de sortir du cercle familial et de l’affect, peut-être trop chargé, pour s’adresser à la fenêtre qu’ouvre la caméra. » Les documentaires offrent également une opportunité de dialogue intergénérationnel et de co-création qu’elle considère comme ouvrant la voie « pour sortir du tabou familial » même si cela prend du temps.

    Si l’art et l’écriture ont leur rôle dans la promotion des liens intergénérationnels et de la guérison, ils ne peuvent ni consoler ni restaurer les pertes subies par les réfugiés. Pour Jenny Teng, la possibilité offerte par la création artistique n’est pas forcément la récupération, qu’elle juge impossible, mais un moyen de « permettre à la solitude d’être un petit peu apaisée… Donc c’est vraiment consoler la souffrance de la souffrance, pas la souffrance en elle-même. » Également investie dans la potentialité réparatrice de l’art, Lana Chhor voit les mots comme aidant à suturer le vide et la blessure engendrés par le silence spectral de l’histoire : « Autant qu’ils peuvent blesser, je suis intimement convaincue que les mots peuvent réparer. »


    #diaspora #douleur #mémoire #Cambodge #génocide

  • #Eyal_Weizman. The Architecture of Memory

    Nick Axel How has 3Forensic_Architecture ’s work with witnesses evolved over the years?

    Eyal Weizman In our first experiments, we were inspired by Harun Farocki’s work such as Serious Games (2009–2010) to take witnesses through a set of immersive experiences, back through the “scene of the crime,” so to speak. This was an attempt to open up, even critique, the over-reliance on both the spoken word and text within what came to be called “the era of the witness.” We wanted to show that communication is also based on gesture, on movement, and on mental-spatial navigation. When we reflected on a number of our experiments with forensic psychologists, we learnt of an important distinction. Memory always shifts between what psychologists call egocentric and allocentric perspectives. An egocentric perspective is a situated view—you remember a scene as you experienced it at eye level—while allocentric perspective allows you to see yourself from the outside—your relation to other things that are behind you or around corners.

    NA How does the experience of trauma relate to these different types of perspective?

    EW Trauma is a moment where those two perspectives, the egocentric and the allocentric, diverge or collide. Part of trauma therapy is about allowing victims to navigate between the egocentric and the allocentric: the reconstruction of their experience—what they saw, what they heard, what they smelled, what they felt—and an understanding of the spaces and the actors that conditioned it. It allows them to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what happened.

    NA In a number of your cases, the way victims were able to express their testimonies is not through words, but with a pen. What is it like to work with people who have gone through such traumatic experiences, and what role does drawing have in your ability to elucidate their experiences?

    EW Trauma often causes an understanding of a particular situated experience to be lost. This means that as the interviewer, in the early stages of an interview, you need to be tuned both to understanding the descriptions you are being told and also to the potential errors within it. Errors are information in their own right. In one of the interviews we undertook in relation to the Saydnaya project, a witness that was beaten in a straight corridor remembered it to have been a spherical space, with all the cells looking at them. This difference in memory allows us to understand something about the experience of total incarceration. It’s a paradox, but errors confirm, to a certain extent, the fact of an intense experience. The more intense the experience has been, the more frequent memory errors are. An error is sometimes more truthful than a faithful cartesian description.

    NA How can you tell what is an error and what isn’t?

    EW In some situations we know because of other sources of information, such as other testimonies, photographs of the space, or videos of the incident, but in others we don’t. In these cases, we need to constitute a relation between an egocentric perspective and an allocentric map of the environment. In order to do this, we often start our interviews with a plan, with an allocentric view, and ask the witness, “What was your understanding at the time of how the scene was laid out?” In a sketch, or a series of sketches, the witness is asked to locate themselves in relation to objects, spaces, and actors. Then, working slowly together with the witness, we extrude the plan, which allows the eye level to be lowered, and for an egocentric perspective to be taken. Dimensions don’t need to be exact, because the witness already has that space in their memories. Then there’s a circular process of negotiation in which memory incrementally starts building, detailing, refining the space, and at the same time, the space starts elucidating the memory. This is a crucial moment and its very volatile. It has much potential, but also involves great risks. We do not want to create secondary memories; we don’t want the memory of the reenactment to become mixed with and distort the original memory. But in this process, in this constant search for memory, things slowly get aligned.

    NA Do you think this leads to a new understanding of architecture, or of space?

    EW As an architect, we often draw the outline or the contour of buildings, then we divide them internally; we work from the outside-in. The process of incarceration makes one experience and measure architecture from the inside-out. I remember former prisoners speaking about the actual pattern of stones within a terrazzo tile. From there they were able to determine the dimension of this floor tile, and from the floor tile, by counting how many there are, the size of the cell. Then, they may try to understand how many cells there are in a corridor by the measuring the distance of shouts, the footsteps they hear, or echoes. Once you start drawing the plan from the inside-out, you never really stop. You certainly don’t stop at the edge of the building. You start thinking, how far away are you from where you were arrested, or from your family? How far are you from a border, and in case of a war, from the forces that may come to liberate you? You build the world around the detail you experience, and this allows you to position yourself within that world and orient yourself.

    NA These models that you build are much more than just an architectural model. How do you, or how do the people you make them with, understand them?

    EW Many of the people we speak with carry trauma with them. The models we’ve built with these witnesses, from their memories, allow them often to externalize what is otherwise and sometimes inaccessibly in their heads. They can see themselves. They can study the building as if from the outside. The models allow people to say “now that you have created this model, I can start to forget.”

    #mémoire #architecture_forensique #Harun_Farocki #traumatisme #prison #emprisonnement #architecture #Saydnaya #torture #Syrie

    via @isskein et @mobileborders

  • Pandemic heaps new fears and trauma on war-scarred Bosnians

    Women exercise during a therapy session in a park in Sarajevo, Bosnia Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. As coronavirus cases surge in Bosnia, the pandemic is heaping new trouble on an impoverished nation that has never recovered economically or psychologically from a war in the 1990s. Bosnian health authorities estimate that nearly half of the Balkan nation’s nearly 3.5 million people have suffered some degree of trauma resulting from the war.
    The 58-year-old unemployed woman attends group therapy sessions to work through the trauma of the 1992-95 conflict. As a young woman in Sarajevo, she endured bombardment, hunger, electricity shortages and was forced to break off her university studies for good. Today she sometimes has to be reminded to see the novel virus as a serious risk.
    “The war was my most difficult experience in life,” she said after a recent therapy session that included painting pinecones and exercising in a Sarajevo park with others.
    “As for the pandemic, the world survived plague and cholera and those are now just water under the bridge.” As coronavirus cases surge in Bosnia, the pandemic is heaping more trouble on an impoverished nation that has never recovered economically or psychologically from a war that killed 100,000 people and forced 2.2 million from their homes.Bosnian health authorities estimate that about half of the the Balkan nation’s nearly 3.5 million people have suffered some degree of trauma resulting from the war.
    Mental health professionals fear that the pandemic will now exacerbate mental health problems and other health risks, and are speaking of a surge of new patients coming into their practices in recent months.
    Tihana Mjstorovic, a Sarajevo psychologist who led the pinecone-painting session, said the war experience was leading some Bosnians to downplay the threat of the pandemic, increasing the risk of its spread.
    “People who survived the war perceive danger differently. Often, if they are not hungry, cold or have mortars exploding over their heads, they do not feel they are in danger,” said Majstorovic, who works for Menssana, a non-governmental mental health group in Sarajevo.It has made them prone to “downplaying the threat, to behaving less responsibly than they should,” Majstorovic said. “It is not at all a healthy mechanism for adapting to a world threatened by an invisible virus.”Remzija Setic, a clinical psychologist, said he, too, sees war survivors “recklesslessly” downplaying the risks of the virus. But he also has patients who are suffering from heightened anxiety because some aspects of living through this pandemic are reminiscent of the war: being trapped indoors, seeing public spaces as dangerous, concern over getting food and separation from family and friends


  • #Lesbos : A #mental_health #crisis beneath the surface

    A mental health crisis among asylum seekers from the former #Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is worsening. InfoMigrants has learned that in the new tent facility, even young #children are receiving psychiatric treatment and medication to deal with ongoing #trauma.

    In the new Lesbos tent camp, 17-year-old Nour from Syria says that when Moria went up in flames in September, she asked her mother to leave her there to die.

    Like a growing number of children and young people in the migrant camps, Nour is taking antidepressants.

    Long-term effects on children

    In the weeks following the destruction of the Moria camp, almost all of the unaccompanied minors – children traveling without a parent or guardian – were transferred off the island. But many children were also left on Lesbos, as well as the other hotspot islands.

    And according to Greg Kavarnos, a psychologist with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) working with asylum seekers on Lesbos, children are among those most at risk of suffering long-term mental health effects.

    “Children are resilient and can bounce back, but they are also at a stage when they’re developing their character and their personality,” Kavarnos told InfoMigrants.

    “If they have to go through traumatic experiences at this age, these will then shape their personality or their character in the future, leading to long-term problems.”

    “We’re creating a generation of children that are going to be reliant on psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives.”

    Children in the camp are increasingly feeling a sense of resignation. Seeing their parents trapped and unable to make decisions or take action, they become hopeless, Kavarnos said.

    “If at eight years old a child has already resigned itself, what does that mean when this child becomes 12 or 16 years old? If at eight years old or 10 years old a child has to take psychiatric medication in order for the symptoms to be held at bay, what’s this going to mean later?”

    When a psychiatric problem arises as a result of trauma, if the trauma is not successfully dealt with, the psychiatric problem then becomes chronic, according to Kavarnos.

    “So, what are we doing? We’re creating a generation of children that are going to be reliant on psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives.”

    Karima, from Afghanistan, is also on antidepressants and has trouble sleeping. Most of her family, including her granddaughters, aged two and three, were in a boat from Turkey that sank in the Aegean. They were rescued and brought to Lesbos. For about two years, they lived in the Moria camp.

    Karima’s son; Rahullah tells us: “It was a very bad situation. ... People died, they drank, they killed each other. We didn’t sleep. So now we have mental problems, all of us, just because of Lesbos.”

    Rahullah’s sister F., the mother of the two little girls, became so unwell that she cut herself, says another of her brothers, a softly-spoken law graduate. F.’s husband was murdered in Afghanistan.

    Another young asylum seeker in the camp, Ahmad*, is 25. He travelled alone from Afghanistan to Greece. He says that he has twice attempted suicide, and if it hadn’t been for his friends, he would have gone through with it and succeeded in killing himself.

    Removal the only solution

    The International Rescue Committee, which provides mental health support to asylum seekers on Lesbos, tries to help migrants with counseling and medication. But according to IRC senior advocacy officer Martha Roussou, while some people do improve, “the only durable solution is to remove them from the traumatic space they are living in.”

    No matter how much medication or psychotherapy you give a person, “if they’re constantly being traumatized by their experiences, you’re always one step behind," said Greg Kavarnos.

    “I can’t do anything for the ongoing trauma, the threats of violence, the inability to access simple facilities. I can’t say to the person, ‘it’s okay, things will get better,’ because I don’t know if things will get better for them.”

    *Ahmad is an assumed name

    If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, at this website: https://www.befrienders.org

    In Greece, a suicide-help line can be reached by telephone at this number: 1018. You can also find more information here: http://suicide-help.gr


  • If you felt cooped up in lockdown, think of refugees confined in camps | Moulid Hujale | Global development | The Guardian

    Covid-19 has transformed the world beyond imagination, affecting almost everyone in some way.Yet for me the changes have felt familiar – from movement restrictions to quarantines, every measure taken to prevent the spread of the virus reminds me of what it means to live as a refugee in a camp.I was once one of them. After my family fled Somalia, we settled in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, where I lived for many years. As soon as we crossed the border we were registered, put in an isolated camp and basically quarantined from the rest of the Kenyan society.
    This is how refugees are treated when they end up in displacement camps. They are not allowed to leave their designated settlements. They live in prison-like conditions indefinitely, where their movement is controlled by local authorities. I’m one of the lucky ones who got resettled in a third country. I currently live in the UK and have been confined to north-west London.The coronavirus lockdown brought back stark memories of life in the camp. It first started when people were panic buying in March. I had to wake up very early to join a long queue at the local Sainsbury’s. The lines of people holding carrier bags and trolleys to carry as much food and toilet paper as possible reminded me of queues in the camps where refugees wait for the monthly UN food distributions. As no one respected physical distancing rules, I would hear people standing close to me complain about the lack of food in the supermarket, and wondering how they would survive with so little. I would think to myself: “Imagine if these people were in refugee camps where they would receive food only once a month? Imagine if they were forced to skip meals, sleep hungry until the next cycle of distribution?”


  • « Je suis passée tout près de la mort » : après le traumatisme de la #réanimation, la longue reconstruction psychologique des patients Covid-19

    Les rescapés partagent la même incompréhension. Les patients de Marisa Denos se demandent comment et pourquoi une telle épreuve est arrivée, si les #séquelles vont rester, si le virus va revenir. « L’anxiété est d’autant plus forte que l’on parle d’un #traumatisme collectif, à une échelle immense », poursuit Marilyne Baranes. Cette docteure en psychologie clinique et psychopathologie, spécialiste du stress post-traumatique, suit cinq patients post-réanimation, âgés de 28 à 40 ans. « D’habitude, des patients sortis de réanimation ont, plus ou moins rapidement, le sentiment d’avoir échappé à la mort, d’être tiré d’affaire. Là, les gens ne comprennent pas pourquoi cette maladie a fait tant de dégâts, pourquoi on n’a pas prévenu les gens plus tôt. Et avec la possibilité d’une deuxième vague, ils sont pétris de peur. »

    L’angoisse est d’autant plus forte pour des jeunes qui n’avaient jamais connu l’hôpital. A 22 ans, Hugues Mignot voit son état physique revenir « quasiment comme avant », même si tout effort sportif reste interdit. Ses cheveux et poils de barbe blanchissent et tombent. « C’est lié au stress post-traumatique », dit calmement ce Parisien passé dix jours en réanimation en mai. À l’hôpital Foch de Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine), Hugues Mignot était l’un des rares patients conscients dans le service. Si les médecins étaient « très humains », les souvenirs restent violents, comme cette vue sur la chambre d’un homme très âgé, placé sous respirateur et dans le coma. Ou ces trois jours critiques « où je me suis rendu compte que c’était peut-être la fin ».


  • #Santé_mentale des #migrants : des #blessures invisibles

    Une prévalence élevée du trouble de stress post-traumatique et de la #dépression

    Les #migrations, les migrants et leur #santé ne peuvent être compris indépendamment du contexte historique et politique dans lequel les mouvements de population se déroulent, et, ces dernières décennies, les migrations vers l’#Europe ont changé. L’#immigration de travail s’est restreinte, et la majorité des étrangers qui arrivent en #France doivent surmonter des obstacles de plus en plus difficiles, semés de #violence et de #mort, au fur et à mesure que les #frontières de l’Europe se ferment. Ils arrivent dans des pays où l’#hostilité envers les migrants croît et doivent s’engager dans un processus hasardeux de #demande_d’asile. Ce contexte a de lourds effets sur la santé mentale des migrants. Ces migrants peuvent être des adultes ou des enfants, accompagnés ou non d’un parent – on parle dans ce dernier cas de mineur non accompagné*. S’il n’existe pas de pathologie psychiatrique spécifique de la migration1 et que tous les troubles mentaux peuvent être rencontrés, il n’en reste pas moins que certaines pathologies sont d’une grande fréquence comme le trouble de stress post-traumatique et la dépression.

    Facteurs de risque

    Pour approcher la vie psychique des migrants et les difficultés auxquelles ils font face, nous distinguerons quatre facteurs à l’origine de difficultés : le vécu prémigratoire, le voyage, le vécu post-migratoire, et les aspects transculturels.

    Vécu prémigratoire

    Avant le départ, de nombreux migrants ont vécu des événements adverses et traumatiques : #persécution, #guerre, #violence_physique, #torture, violence liée au #genre (#mutilations, #viols), #deuils de proches dans des contextes de #meurtre ou de guerre, #emprisonnement, famine, exposition à des scènes horribles, etc. Les violences ont fréquemment été dirigées contre un groupe, amenant une dislocation des liens communautaires, en même temps que des liens familiaux. Ces traumatismes ont un caractère interhumain et intentionnel, et une dimension collective, témoignant d’une situation de violence organisée, c’est-à-dire d’une relation de violence exercée par un groupe sur un autre.2, 3 Cette situation de traumatismes multiples et intentionnels est fréquemment à l’origine d’une forme particulière de troubles appelée trouble de stress post-traumatique complexe. Les nombreuses pertes, deuils et pertes symboliques fragilisent vis-à-vis du risque dépressif.

    Départ et #voyage

    La migration est en elle-même un événement de vie particulièrement intense, obligeant à des renoncements parfois douloureux, déstabilisante par tous les remaniements qu’elle implique. Ce risque est pris par ceux qui partent avec un #projet_migratoire élaboré. En revanche, l’exil dans une situation critique est plus souvent une fuite, sans projet, sans espoir de retour, bien plus difficile à élaborer.1 Vers une Europe dont les frontières se sont fermées, les routes migratoires sont d’une dangerosité extrême. Nous connaissons tous le drame de la Méditerranée, ses morts en mer innombrables.4 Les adolescents venant seuls d’Afghanistan, par exemple, peuvent mettre plusieurs années à arriver en Europe, après des avancées, des retours en arrière, des phases d’incarcération ou de #prostitution. Durant ce long voyage, tous sont exposés à de nouvelles violences, de nouveaux traumatismes et à la traite des êtres humains, surtout les femmes et les enfants.

    Vécu post-migratoire

    Une fois dans le pays hôte, les migrants se retrouvent coincés entre un discours idéal sur l’asile, la réalité d’une opinion publique souvent hostile et des politiques migratoires contraignantes qui les forcent sans cesse à prouver qu’ils ne sont pas des fraudeurs ou des criminels.5 Les réfugiés qui ont vécu un traumatisme dans le pays d’origine vivent donc un nouveau traumatisme : le déni de leur vécu par le pays d’accueil. Ce déni, qui est pathogène, prend de multiples aspects, mais il s’agit d’être cru : par les agents de l’Office de protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (Ofpra) qui délivre le statut de réfugié, par les conseils départementaux, qui décident, avec un certain arbitraire, de la crédibilité de la minorité des jeunes non accompagnés. L’obtention d’un statut protecteur dans un cas, l’obligation de quitter le territoire dans l’autre. Mais raconter en détail des événements traumatiques que l’on n’a parfois jamais pu verbaliser est difficile, parfois impossible. Lorsque des troubles de la mémoire ou des reviviscences traumatiques les empêchent de donner des détails précis, on leur répond...

    #migration #mental_health #trauma #depression #violence


  • #Santé_mentale des #migrants : une #étude sonne l’alarme

    Une étude réalisée par le Comité pour la santé des exilés (Comede), portant sur la violence, la vulnérabilité sociale et les troubles psychiques chez les migrants, souligne l’importance d’une meilleure prise en compte des questions de santé mentale des exilés et de leur accompagnement.

    « La santé mentale des migrants/exilés constitue un enjeu important de santé publique », alerte le Comede. Dans son étude publiée ce mardi 5 septembre dans le #Bulletin_épidémiologique_hebdomadaire, le Comité pour la santé des exilés analyse les violences qu’ont subies les exilés, leurs conditions de vulnérabilité sociale et les troubles psychiques graves dont ils sont atteints. Et montre à quel point ces trois phénomènes sont étroitement liés. La question est rarement évoquée ; elle constitue pourtant un problème majeur dans les conditions de vie des migrants et leur intégration.

    Hébergé au sein de l’hôpital du Kremlin-Bicêtre, en banlieue parisienne, voilà près de 40 ans que le Comede vient en aide aux personnes exilées, en leur proposant des soins et un accompagnement dans leurs démarches administratives. Le traitement des troubles psychologiques et psychiatriques représente une part non négligeable de son activité. L’étude rapporte ainsi que sur les 16 095 personnes reçues entre 2007 et 2016 pour un bilan de santé, 16,6% affichaient des troubles psychiques graves. Il s’agissait pour les deux tiers de syndromes psychotraumatiques et de traumas complexes, mais aussi de troubles anxieux et de psychoses. Des pathologies lourdes qui se manifestent par des troubles du sommeil, de la mémoire et de la concentration, des idées suicidaires, et qui nécessitent souvent plusieurs mois de suivi thérapeutique.

    Ces troubles psychiques graves constituent ainsi « la première maladie qui affecte les exilés passés par le Comede, bien loin devant le VIH et la tuberculose », indique Arnaud Veïsse, l’un des auteurs de l’étude.


    « Chez les exilés récemment arrivés en France, les psychotraumatismes résultent en premier lieu des causes ayant provoqué leur départ, ainsi que des conséquences immédiates de l’exil », remarquent les auteurs de l’étude. Or, 62% des quelque 5 000 personnes reçues en consultation médicale au Comede entre 2012 et 2016, originaires pour la grande majorité d’Afrique et d’Asie du Sud, ont dit avoir été victimes de violence, 14 % de torture et 13 % de violences liées au genre et à l’orientation sexuelle (viols, mariages forcés, excisions…).

    Au-delà des souffrances physiques immédiates, ces violences peuvent provoquer à long terme une vulnérabilité sociale. Selon l’étude du Comede, 98% des personnes interrogées n’avaient pas de logement personnel, 81% étaient dépourvus de protection maladie, 38% ne pouvaient pas communiquer en français, 23% ne pouvaient pas manger à leur faim. Une vulnérabilité sociale elle-même susceptible de renforcer les troubles psychiques. « C’est un cercle vicieux, analyse Arnaud Veïsse : les violences subies sont susceptibles de générer des psychotraumatismes qui peuvent conduire à un isolement social, qui accroît le risque d’être exposé à des violences… » L’étude observe ainsi que les traumatismes complexes, les idées suicidaires, les troubles de la mémoire et de la concentration ainsi que les troubles dépressifs sont plus nombreux chez les personnes en situation de détresse sociale.

    Le cercle vicieux des procédures administratives

    La situation administrative des exilés est également pointée comme pouvant constituer un facteur aggravant. « Les psychothérapeutes témoignent fréquemment de décompensations, de syndromes psychotraumatiques et de dépressions lors de la détérioration de la situation socio-administrative des patients », rapportent ainsi les auteurs de l’étude. Et de préciser : « Les structures de soins spécialisés constatent que les thérapies des personnes déboutées de l’asile sont plus longues. Le rejet de la demande d’asile, qui représente pour certains exilés un déni de reconnaissance des violences subies, provoque la peur d’être reconduit dans le pays d’origine et entraîne le plus souvent une précarisation des conditions de vie (perte d’hébergement, absence de ressources, impossibilité d’exercer un emploi). »

    Or le rejet de la demande d’asile peut être lui-même la conséquence de ces troubles psychiques et de l’incapacité de ceux qui en souffrent à se présenter aux convocations de l’administration, ou à raconter en détail les raisons qui les ont poussés à fuir leur pays. Comment en effet répondre à un interrogatoire ultra pointilleux sur les violences subies lorsqu’on souffre de pertes de mémoire ? Se profile alors le risque d’un autre cercle vicieux : incapables de tenir un récit solide et cohérent, les exilés voient leur demande d’asile rejetée, ce qui provoque une aggravation des symptômes.

    Apparemment conscient de l’ampleur du phénomène et de ses enjeux, l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (Ofpra), qui statue sur les demandes d’asile, affirme avoir pris des mesures pour y répondre. Des mesures qui passent notamment par la formation de son personnel et des interprètes.

    Face à un constat alarmant, Arnaud Veïsse du Comede juge donc indispensable d’améliorer l’accueil des exilés en France, et plus spécifiquement l’accès à la santé mentale et à l’interprétariat. Et de déconstruire les idées reçues. « Souvent, les structures de santé publique nous renvoient des patients en disant qu’elles ne sont pas spécialisées dans le soin aux exilés. En réalité, elles manquent de temps et de moyens. »

    #mental_health #migration #France #rapport #Comede #violence #vulnerability #trauma #public_health #BEH

    Rapport : http://beh.santepubliquefrance.fr/beh/2017/19-20/index.html


  • Coronavirus in Iraq adds to Yazidi community’s trauma - Middle East Eye
    Weighed down by years of suffering, one in four Yazidis in Iraq’s IDP camps may require psychological support after pandemic recedes



  • Coronavirus : à Canton, la « Petite Afrique » stigmatisée

    A Xiaobei, le Tianxiu Building, qui abrite un marché connu dans toute l’Afrique, est désert. Plus de 90 % de ses boutiques sont fermées. Quelques commerçants chinois se contentent de laisser un numéro de portable sur leur porte close.Les cheveux « 100 % brésiliens » ou « 100 % indiens », les tissus traditionnels africains, les faux sacs à main de luxe et les téléviseurs Samsung probablement tout aussi faux, attendent en vain les chalands africains qui, d’ordinaire, alimentent les boutiques de Bamako, Lagos, Nairobi ou Johannesburg. Même spectacle dans les rues de Sanyuanli où seule une poignée de Chinois vend à même le trottoir et devant des dizaines de boutiques fermées des jeans de mauvaise qualité à de très rares acheteurs venus de Lagos ou de Conakry en mars et ne pouvant plus repartir. C’est que depuis plus de deux mois, les dizaines de milliers d’Africains qui résident à Canton ou viennent y faire des affaires font figure de pestiférés. Après la découverte, fin mars, que la patronne d’un restaurant fréquenté par des Africains était porteuse du Covid-19, la rumeur s’est propagée comme une traînée de poudre : tous les Noirs ont le Covid ! Début avril, plusieurs dizaines d’Africains – 200 affirment certains – sont expulsés manu militari de leurs logements par leurs propriétaires effrayés. Egalement refoulés par les hôteliers, ces commerçants au portefeuille pourtant bien garni dorment plusieurs jours à même le trottoir. Sur les réseaux sociaux, leurs vidéos deviennent virales en Afrique.


  • « Ce sont les plus vulnérables des vulnérables » : les familles de prisonniers syriens face au virus du silence

    Alors qu’il est impossible de connaître le bilan réel de l’épidémie de Covid-19 dans le pays, de nombreuses familles en exil s’inquiètent pour leurs proches qu’elles pensent retenus dans les prisons secrètes du régime.
    Elles sont syriennes, réfugiées en Turquie, en Jordanie, au Liban, en Grèce, en Allemagne ou au Royaume-Uni. Elles ont subi la guerre et tous ses maux : la terreur et les bombes, les destructions, les déchirures, la traque, l’exil. Elles ont vu mourir des voisins, des amis, de la famille. Elles ont quitté leur maison, les lieux de leur enfance ; laissé parfois derrière elles de vieux parents qui ne pouvaient les suivre ; subi dans leur fuite humiliations, harcèlements, chantages. Leurs nuits ne sont jamais tranquilles ; depuis longtemps, les rêves ont déserté. Ne restent que des souvenirs, de l’amertume, les traumatismes. Et pour toutes celles qui ont souhaité nous parler, une obsession qui les maintient en vie et les empêche de vivre : un mari, un père, un fils, un oncle, arrêtés par la police du régime syrien et disparus dans ses geôles sans qu’on ne sache plus rien.


  • Call for probe after man found dead in Covid-19 asylum seeker hotel

    Refugee activists have called for an independent inquiry into the decision to move asylum seekers from their flats in Glasgow into hotels, after a man died suddenly at a guest house.

    Adnan, a 30-year-old Syrian, who had been in the city for about six months and was claiming asylum, was found dead in his room at #McLay’s_Guest_House on Tuesday 5 May.

    He had been living in the hotel for about a month, after accommodation provider, #Mears_Group, moved him from the flat where he had been living alone as part of its Covid-19 response.

    It is understood he may have died after a drug overdose. A postmortem will be carried out to confirm the cause of death.

    Hundreds of asylum seekers across the city have been moved to hotels by #Mears since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Their asylum support of £35 per week has stopped and instead they are provided with three meals per day in communal dining rooms, where it is claimed social distancing is difficult.

    They have no money for essentials such as toiletries, phone top-ups or snacks. After The Ferret reported that shared coffee and tea facilities put people at risk of being infected by Covid-19, they were taken away in at least one dining room. No in-room alternatives have been offered.

    Those supporting asylum seekers in hotels have said the situation is having a toll on their emotional well-being and are concerned about the risks that the situation poses to their physical health during the pandemic.

    The Ferret spoke to a friend of Adnan, who is also staying at McLay’s Guest House. He said his friend had addiction issues, was taking street Valium, and had become increasingly distressed during his time at the hotel.

    It is claimed that he had experienced past #trauma including abuse in jail and his friend said he had been expressing suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.

    The day before he died, his friend said he was having flashbacks and had asked to see a GP.

    Pinar Aksu, an activist who also works for Maryhill Integration Network, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry into this death. If people don’t get the help they need then we risk more people dying.

    “We also need to stop moving people into hotels. It seems very clear to me that this is being done so that Mears and the Home Office can protect profit. If they care about people’s welfare then why are they moving people out of their flats in the midst of a pandemic to places where they have to eat meals in shared areas and share bathrooms?

    “This tragedy is evidence of the damage caused by the asylum system. Moving people to hotels like this is only causing more stress and isolation. It has to stop.”

    A spokesperson from the No Evictions Network said: “We are deeply saddened and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity, or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK government. They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect.

    “Individuals, racist policies and systems are directly to blame for this man’s death. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored and a young life has now been lost.”

    At oral evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into Home Office work on Covid-19, Mears Group said it had taken the decision “on balance” to move people in flats into hotels with meals provided because it meant staff would not need to deliver cash to them. It was also claimed they would have better access to health services.

    Mears, along with Clearsprings Real Homes and Serco who have accommodation contracts elsewhere in the UK, said it was “concerning” that asylum seekers had had their support stopped.

    A spokesman for Mears Group said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum-seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. The cause of death has not been determined.”

    A Police Scotland spokesperson said the death is being treated as “unexplained” and that a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

    The Ferret tried to contact McLay’s Guest House for comment but was not able to speak to management. The Home Office has also been contacted.

    #décès #mort #mourir_dans_un_hôtel #Glasgow #Ecosse #UK #asile #migrations #réfugiés #hôtel #covid-19 #coronavirus #hébergement #logement #santé_mentale #suicide (?) #traumatisme #privatisation

    ping @karine4 @isskein @thomas_lacroix

    • Fury after Syrian asylum seeker found dead in Scottish hotel

      CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the UK Government after a Syrian man was found dead in a Scottish hotel.

      Initially named by friends as Adnan Olpi, that can today be confirmed as Adnan Olbeh.

      The 30-year-old was amongst scores of asylum seekers placed in a private guest house by Home Office housing contractor Mears Group.

      Emergency services were called to the 81-bedroom McLays Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon but were unable to save him.

      Police Scotland said his death is being treated as unexplained, and friends told The National that he had sought support for mental health struggles and had developed drug problems while in the UK asylum system.

      However, despite some reports on social media that he had taken his own life, it is not known whether or not his death was intentional.

      Friends living alongside Mr Olbeh at the city site were afraid to speak out on the record, for fear of harming their claims for sanctuary in the UK.

      However, speaking on condition of anonymity, one fellow Syrian told how he had accompanied Mr Olbeh to appointments in which he had asked for mental health support. The friend said: “He had suicidal thoughts and told the Home Office that. I went to the hospital with him, he was seeking help. He tried many times. They would ask, ‘can you wait a few days?’”

      However, it is claimed that the move into the hotel exacerbated Mr Olbeh’s distress due to the inability to carry out basic independent tasks, like cooking his own meals. The friend went on: “I’m in shock. It’s really tough for me because I was so close with him.

      “He was under more pressure. I wonder if there was any small thing I could have done to save him.

      “He had a dream, he wanted his life to become better. He wanted to work and send money back to his family. He wanted to improve himself and he was learning the language. He wanted to get married and start a family.”

      The No Evictions Network held an online vigil yesterday evening. A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the situation, and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK Government.

      “They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored. We have lost a young life.”

      It is understood that around 500 asylum seekers in total are now being housed in Glasgow hotels, including some brought in from elsewhere in the UK. Mears Group claims it had to move people out of the short-term let accommodation used for new applicants but has been unable to find new provision due to coronavirus restrictions on the property market.

      Advocacy groups have raised fears about welfare, safety and social distancing but Mears Group insists all movement is being undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing.

      Last night, a Mears Group spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”

      The Home Office said: "We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life.

      “It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”


    • Syrian man dies in Glasgow amid fears over refugees’ mental health

      Concerns raised over hundreds of asylum seekers moved en masse into hotels for lockdown.

      A Syrian man has been found dead in a Glasgow guesthouse after outreach workers raised significant concerns about the spiralling mental distress of hundreds of asylum seekers who were moved en masse into hotels at the beginning of lockdown.

      The man, who was 30 and had been living in Glasgow for the past six months while he completed his asylum application, was found dead in his room at McLay’s Guest House in the city centre on 5 May. A postmortem will take place to establish the cause of death, but a friend said the man had been experiencing suicidal thoughts for several weeks.

      Last month the Guardian reported that more than 300 asylum seekers housed in the city – the UK’s largest dispersal area – had been given less than an hour’s notice to pack up their flats before being moved into city centre hotels, where they claimed physical distancing was “impossible”. In a move condemned by campaigners, they also had all financial support withdrawn.

      The private housing provider Mears, which is subcontracted by the Home Office, moved them from mainly self-contained apartments into hotels where residents and campaigners describe continuing difficulties with maintaining physical distancing.

      Mears said people were being “safely and appropriately” housed in accordance with health authority guidance, while a Home Office spokesperson said it was “totally incorrect” to suggest that there were problems with physical distancing.
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      Since then, outreach workers have identified increasing fear, stress and anxiety among this vulnerable population, who have no information about future housing arrangements and no money to top up their phones to continue communication with lawyers, or buy extra food, hand sanitiser or period products for women.

      A friend of the dead man said that since the move into the guesthouse, he had spoken of worsening flashbacks to torture he had experienced on his journey through Libya to the UK.

      Ako Zada, the director of Community InfoSource, an asylum housing charity, has been visiting hotel residents regularly. He said: “I’ve been shocked to see people so mentally unwell. They are worried about cleaning of shared areas, and they don’t know when they will be moving again because they keep getting told different stories.”

      Hotel residents have complained about the quality of food provided, the fact that windows cannot be opened, as well as the psychological isolation. A number of hotel workers have also contacted the Guardian to raise concerns about large numbers of asylum seekers congregating in enclosed areas.

      Robina Qureshi of Positive Action in Housing said the “hotel asylum seekers” were being treated as “less than human”. “Many people, men and women are suffering from severe mental health conditions. The fact that Mears and the Home Office see fit to dump hundreds of people in hotels where there is no social distancing, people cannot keep their personal environment aired or hygienic, and have had their meagre card payment of £35 a week cut to £0 deserves further investigation.”

      Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This tragic death must be a chilling reminder of the chronic vulnerabilities of those going through the complexities of the asylum system.”

      A Mears spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum – seeker who had been in Mears-supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”

      A home office spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life. It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”


    • Mears Group 2020 update: scandal-ridden landlord under fire from Glasgow to Gloucester

      At the start of 2019 we published a profile on Mears Group. The #Gloucester based housing repairs outsourcer had just won a £1.15 billion contract to run the refugee accommodation system in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the north of England.

      In the last year, refugee and housing campaigners have been keeping a close eye on Mears, with local resistance to its slum landlord practices emerging across the UK. This report just gives a quick update on some recent news on the company.

      Unless you live in one of the properties it manages, you may well not have heard of Mears. But it has quietly built up a small empire across the UK, primarily by taking over privatised housing services from local councils. Along the way it’s already clocked up a list of scandals from Glasgow down to Brighton, involving accusations of local government corruption and numerous alleged overcharging scams.

      The death of Adnan Olbeh

      Adnan Olbeh was found dead on 5 May 2020 in a Glasgow hotel where he had been placed by Mears Group under its management of the UK’s “asylum dispersal” scheme. He was 30 years old, from Syria. The cause of death is unclear, with any postmortem examination delayed by the corona crisis.

      What is known is that Adnan was one of hundreds of refugees recently evicted from their flats by Mears and other asylum landlords.

      The mass evictions were part of the Home Office’s coronavirus strategy. Often with just an hour’s notice, people were told to pack and leave their flats and moved into hotels. The logic behind this is not entirely clear, but it seems in line with other aspects of the government’s shambolic covid-19 response. “Social distancing” measures included people being transported four or five to a small van, stripped of cash support and facilities to cook for themselves, and instead being made to eat close together in hotel canteens — with food including the likes of undercooked chicken and mouldy bread.

      According to Smina Akhtar, interviewed by John Grayson for the Institute for Race Relations:

      “We have had lots of reports from people in the hotels about really awful food and poor conditions there. Adnan’s friend told me that his mental health really deteriorated in the hotel. A week before he died his friend asked the hotel to call an emergency ambulance because Adnan was in a terrible state. His friend went with him to the hospital but said that the staff there did nothing, they offered him no medication, and sent him back to his hotel.”

      According to Mears, in evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee, it was acting on a directive from the Home Office.

      Mears’ Home Office contracts so far

      Adnan Olbeh’s death is one visible tragedy linked to the misery of the UK asylum system. Thousands more people live with the everyday effects of a housing system which “disperses” people into run-down slum housing in the country’s most impoverished communities.

      For Mears, this means a ten year profit stream. For Mears’ new tenants – rat infestations, broken boilers, collapsed ceilings, piles of rubbish, and environmental hazards of all kinds seem the norm.

      John Grayson of South Yorkshire Asylum Action Group (Symaag) has been documenting the “chaotic” and “failed” Mears contract in Yorkshire. In the past he reported on similar conditions under the last contract holder, G4S.

      So have Mears even managed to underperform the shambles of G4S’ housing management? It’s maybe too early to make a full comparison. But it doesn’t look like things have got off to a good start.

      G4S and others had complained bitterly about making losses on the former round of asylum housing contracts. To drive profits up, Mears started their own tenure by trying to slash the amounts they pay to the smaller landlords they rent from. In South Yorkshire, Mears offered landlords new contracts paying up to 20% less than G4S had done. Many refused to sign up in what John Grayson calls a “virtual landlords strike” which left Mears struggling to place the asylum seekers it was contracted to house.

      In the North East, Mears had similar problems negotiating with G4S’ main sub-contractor Jomast – development company headed by Teesside multi-millionaire Stuart Monk. According to Grayson, this left over 1000 people stuck in hotels across West Yorkshire and Humberside in Wakefield’s “Urban House” temporary asylum accommodation over the winter. And, as he explained to us, the problem is by no means solved.

      “When Covid-19 arrived the whole asylum housing system was frozen in the Mears contract areas with around 400 people still in hotels and 270 in Urban House. Many people have now spent four months in Urban House, when they are only meant to stay there a few weeks. Urban House has appalling conditions which have been extensively documented in pictures and videos sent out from people resisting inside.”

      One thing Mears has achieved in Yorkshire is provoking a major local authority to come out against the contract. In January, as well as launching inspections of 240 Mears properties, Sheffield Council called on the Home Office to terminate the Mears contract and transfer asylum housing in the city directly to the council. This is only really a token gesture – the council has no say in national asylum policy. But it could be one move in a shift against the outsourced asylum housing system, if followed up elsewhere in the country.

      In Scotland, there is a strong solidarity network in support of refugee housing rights – including the Glasgow No Evictions campaign and groups such as the Unity Centre, Living Rent tenants union, and charity Positive Action in Housing. The main rallying point in 2019 was previous contractor Serco’s threatened “lock change evictions” of 300 of its tenants. Well aware of the opposition, Mears has so far tried to tread more carefully. It has promised not to carry out similar evictions, and set up a so-called “independent scrutiny board” to deflect criticism.

      In the North of Ireland, the PPR Project is one association monitoring and exposing conditions in Mears’ housing there.

      Milton Keynes mystery

      Before it turned asylum landlord, Mears’ big profit hope was getting more involved in the very lucrative business of housing development. One of its potential jackpots was a 50/50 joint venture with Milton Keynes council to redevelop seven major estates. The deal was valued at £1 billion, and branded as “YourMK”.

      But as of last year, the scheme was dead in the water. In July 2018, the council said it was putting the regeneration deal “on hold”. In October 2018, whistleblower allegations emerged that Mears had been overcharging Milton Keynes for repairs by up to £80,000 a month, with overall some £15 million “unaccounted for”. When we looked at Mears last February, the YourMK website had gone dead, with a page announcing that further information would be coming soon.

      The MK scandal still seems to be quietly brewing. In July 2019, the MK Citizen reported first of all that the regeneration scheme was definitively “scrapped”. But a couple of weeks later a second Citizen report corrected that YourMK was “not dead but dormant”, with the council and Mears “in discussions about whether it will remain the right partnership structure in future”.

      In May 2020, we haven’t seen any new announcements. The YourMK website is still down, and there is no official word on that supposedly missing 15 million. Where are the budding investigative journalists of Milton Keynes to get to the bottom of this?

      Booted out of Brighton

      Mears’ ten year housing maintenance contract with Brighton and Hove council finally came to an end on 31 May. Again, customer complaints came together with whistleblower revelations – and, yet again, the apparent disappearance of large sums of money.

      A council investigation found it had been overcharged by £500,000 by a plastering subcontractor hired by Mears. A second investigation was later opened into overcharging for electrical work.

      Mears will not be missed in #Brighton. And just before they left, in February 2020 their workers were balloting for strike action over pay and Mears’ plan to combine holiday and sick pay.

      Newham: Mears Cats

      In East London, Mears run 250 homes which are set for demolition as part of Newham Council’s “Regeneration Zone” in Canning Town and Custom House, E16.

      Like Milton Keynes, this is another overlong saga of a failing regeneration project leaving people stuck in poor housing. Back in 2011, Newham handed the properties to a private management company called Omega to let out on short term commercial tenancies. This was supposed to be a “temporary” arrangement before the bulldozers came in. Mears bought out the contract in 2014, and six years later are still in place. While the buildings are still owned by the council, Mears collect the rent and do the repairs – in theory.

      In reality, Custom House tenants speak of conditions that would be very familiar to anyone in Mears’ asylum accommodation in Sheffield or Glasgow. Months overdue repairs, water leaks, exposed asbestos, rat infestations and a “war” to get anything done – all whilst paying average rents twice as high as in directly run Newham council properties.

      Tenants have set up a vocal campaign group called Mears Cats, part of the Peoples Empowerment Alliance of Custom House, pushing to get their repairs done and for Newham Council to take direct responsibility. Boglarka Filler, one of the Mears Cats, told Corporate Watch:

      “Schemes such as the partnership between Mears and Newham Council have brought further misery to people already on the receiving end of austerity and insecure employment. Mears Cats are campaigning for better quality, cheaper housing for Mears tenants struggling to cope with disrepair and debts caused by high rents. We will take action to ensure that the Mears contract will not be renewed in Newham when it runs out in 2021, and that we get a fair deal next time.”

      Steady profits, feisty shareholders

      On a business front, Mears continues to turn a decent profit and pay out to its shareholders. Its last year (2018) annual results clocked operating profits up 4.7% (though revenue was 3% down), and shareholders pocketed a dividend up 3% on the year before.

      Mears has kept up its strategy of honing in on its “core” housing maintenance business. After buying up Mitie’s property division last year, it sold off its own home care wing.

      Most recently, Mears has said that it only expects a modest impact from the covid crisis. Housing is what is called “non-discretionary” spending – unlike foreign holidays or consumer fads, there is still demand for essential repairs in a downturn. The bulk of Mears’ income is locked in from long term contracts, largely with the public sector. As the company explained, 90% of its order book comes from public bodies and “the government has made a clear commitment that invoices will be settled quickly”.

      Through the lockdown, Mears has said it is only carrying out only emergency repairs. Although workers complain they are still being sent on unnecessary jobs without “social distancing” in place, or called in just to sit in company offices.

      Less positive for management, there are new rumbles from rebellious shareholders. Back in 2018 one of the two biggest shareholders, a German investment manager called Shareholder Value Management (SVM) successfully pushed out the company’s long-term chairman. At the latest AGM in June 2019, the other big investor also threw its weight around.

      PrimeStone Capital, a Mayfair based investor which owns over 13% of Mears’ shares, tried to get two new nominees on the board of directors against management’s wishes. The shareholder rebellion was narrowly defeated. In a statement, PrimeStone explained it was unhappy that “the company’s revenues and profit have remained flat despite its strong market position and growth prospects [while] average net debt has doubled”.

      It argued that:

      “Mears’ underperformance is predominantly due to a lack of strategic, commercial and financial experience on the board. The current board has a strong concentration of directors with a background in social housing, health & safety and charities.”

      Mears’ profit-hungry management guarantee shareholder payoffs by squeezing their repair costs to the bone. The outcome is the lived experience of their tenants across the UK. But, for some shareholders, they’re still not doing enough.

      Students and shirts

      Despite its well documented failings, Mears continues to win new contracts – for example, a new housing development project in North Lanarkshire, and a housing maintenance and repairs contract with Crawley council.

      Another sideline is its student housing offshoot Mears Student Life, so far with just two complexes in Dundee and Salford.

      Mears also likes a bit of football. In May 2019 the League One side Rotherham United confirmed it had extended its contract to emblazon the company’s classy red and black logo on its away kits for the 2019/20 season.

      Flowers left for Adnan Olbeh


    • From Sudan to the #Park_Inn: the tragic story of a migrant’s killing

      A mass stabbing in Glasgow in June revealed the plight of asylum seekers crammed into hotels during lockdown

      On the last Friday of June, at about midday, Badreddin Abadlla Adam left his room at the Park Inn hotel in Glasgow, walked down to reception, and stabbed six people. The 28-year-old, an asylum seeker from Sudan who had been placed in the hotel as part of the UK government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, stabbed and seriously injured three other residents, two staff members and a policeman who arrived on the scene. Adam was shot dead by armed officers shortly afterwards.

      The incident, which took place as Scotland was still under stringent lockdown, was initially reported by some media outlets as a potential terrorist attack, although police later dismissed this explanation. It was immediately seized on by rightwing activists, to claim that the country was threatened by an influx of “illegal” immigrants.

      Instead, the Park Inn incident has highlighted the increasingly precarious situation of people who seek a safe haven in the UK, even as the government proposes more severe measures to deter them. Adam is one of three asylum seekers who have died in Glasgow since the start of the pandemic, a series of events that has shocked the city, and left campaigners and politicians calling for a public inquiry.

      At the end of March, B, a 30-year-old Syrian who spoke to the Observer on condition of anonymity, was one of several hundred asylum seekers in Glasgow who unexpectedly received a knock on the door. He had been sent to Scotland’s largest city after arriving in the UK the previous autumn. Glasgow hosts about 10% of the 35,000 people who claim asylum in the UK each year, under a policy known as dispersal. Like other recent arrivals, B was living in his own small apartment; a two-room space in a hostel. He had his own bathroom, and he had privacy.

      At the door, however, was an employee of Mears Group, the Home Office contractor that manages asylum accommodation in Glasgow. “They said, ‘you need to get ready,’” B told the Observer, “‘you’re being moved to a hotel because of coronavirus.’” Across the city, hundreds of others were receiving the same call, as Mears abruptly moved about 350 asylum seekers – for the most part, recent arrivals who were living in temporary accommodation – into six hotels. Parliament heard in June that many received little or no notice, and that among them were pregnant women and survivors of trafficking and torture.

      In theory, this was a decision taken to ensure people’s safety during the pandemic. But, B said, when he arrived at his new accommodation, a bed and breakfast in the city centre, he found a “horrible situation”. More than 100 people had suddenly been thrust into communal living, sharing washing facilities and queueing for meals. Before, most had been receiving the standard asylum support payment of £37.50 a week, but because food was being provided, this was halted by the Home Office.

      “We didn’t have freedom,” B said. “We had no money, we couldn’t choose when to eat or what to eat, and nobody could tell us how long we would be there.” B was also concerned that social distancing was more difficult than in his previous home.

      Throughout April, the hotel population grew to more than 500 as asylum seekers continued to be sent to Glasgow. J, a young Iranian who arrived in the city that month, told the Observer – also on condition of anonymity – that while at first he found it a relief to be somewhere safe after a “painful” journey to the UK, the accommodation soon came to feel like a “stylish prison”. Both interviewees said that food sometimes arrived undercooked, and that this led to protests by residents.

      “We had so many people ask us, ‘when will this change?’” said Selina Hales, director of Refuweegee, one of several local charities that provided additional food parcels to hotel residents. “People were in a totally controlled environment and one of the main frustrations was the isolation.” A spokesperson for Mears told the Observer that meals were in line with NHS nutrition guidelines, and rated “good” in a survey of residents. They added that there were no recorded cases of Covid-19 in hotels during lockdown.

      According to the two asylum seekers, however, the fear and uncertainty prompted by this new situation began to take its toll on people’s mental health; B said that some of his friends were reminded of their experiences of being detained, either in the countries they had fled or on their journeys to the UK. “You could see people starting to unravel,” said Jack Macleod, 21, who worked for several months serving food to residents of the six hotels. Housing and welfare managers, employed by Mears, were available on site, but according to Macleod, many asylum seekers he spoke to felt abandoned.

      “People would come and talk to me,” said Macleod, “they would say ‘this place is making me really depressed’. The only thing I could say, because I’m not a counsellor, is ‘just try and hold on’.” Eventually, Macleod said, he left the job – a minimum-wage role he applied for via an agency when he lost his previous job at the start of the pandemic – because he felt he was being forced into the role of ad hoc social worker.

      Many asylum seekers suffer abuse before they reach the UK, and the Observer spoke to several people who work with refugees in Glasgow who described how the hotel conditions exacerbated some people’s existing psychological trauma. “We got used to hearing people express suicidal thoughts,” said Dylan Fotoohi, a Glasgow-based activist who helped organise food distribution during lockdown, and has since co-founded the campaign group Refugees for Justice. The spokesperson for Mears said all residents had access to mental health support through a dedicated NHS team. During lockdown, however, this team was stretched as members were seconded to hospital coronavirus wards.

      On 5 May, Adnan Olbeh, a 30-year-old Syrian, was found dead in his room at McLays guest house, one of the six hotels. According to friends, Olbeh had been detained and tortured in Libya, on his journey to Europe, and was complaining of flashbacks. In response, the Scottish Refugee Council – the country’s leading refugee charity – sent a letter to the UK home secretary asking for urgent action to “lessen the risk of further tragedies” in the hotels. There was no reply. The Observer has seen a copy of this letter, dated 14 May, but a spokesperson for the Home Office said they did not receive it.

      It was not until the stabbings in June – six weeks after Olbeh’s death – that some people began to be moved out of the hotels: the Park Inn was evacuated soon after the incident, and many of the residents were later rehoused in apartments. But why did the Home Office and its contractor find it necessary to put so many there in the first place? In public statements, Mears has said that it was partly for health and safety reasons: housing people together reduced the number of trips across Glasgow that staff had to make during lockdown, and made it easier for health workers to visit asylum seekers.

      Another possible reason is that it was running out of places to house people. Since 2012, asylum accommodation has been outsourced to a set of private contractors, but the system has been beset with problems: a report by the National Audit Office in July found that “providers had struggled to establish their supply chains, resulting in poor performance, delays and additional costs”.

      One particular pressure point is in the provision of what’s known as “initial accommodation” – the temporary housing that people who have no means to support themselves are placed in when they arrive in the UK. Mears, one of the UK’s largest private social housing providers, took over the contract that covers Glasgow in September last year, from the outsourcing giant Serco. Within weeks, it was facing a shortage of accommodation.

      In response, the company began renting serviced apartments – short-term lets, normally used by tourists and visitors to the city – on the open market. On 22 April, a spokesperson for Mears Group told the Scottish news website the Ferret that it had been using these short-term lets, and that it had been forced to move people into hotels because of “restrictions on the property market” brought by the pandemic.

      The spokesperson stressed that this decision was taken to ensure the “safety and wellbeing” of the asylum seekers, but was such a move really in people’s best interests? A condition of the Home Office housing contract is that providers must be “proactive” in identifying the needs of vulnerable people in their care – yet Mears’s account of whether it carried out adequate checks before moving people into hotels has been inconsistent.

      During the summer, parliament’s home affairs committee held hearings on the UK government’s response to the pandemic. In written evidence supplied to the committee on 10 June, Mears Group stated that it “risk assessed which service users it was appropriate to move, taking into account health advice”. At a press conference on 25 June, however, the company’s chief operating officer John Taylor described the move as a “blanket decision”. Once people were in hotels, he said, “it became obvious that there were vulnerabilities and that the hotel setting isn’t appropriate for some people”. The company then backtracked a few hours later, saying it held “discussions” with asylum seekers prior to deciding whether to move them. The Home Office also says that Mears held a meeting with each person before deciding whether or not to move them.

      In its report, published on 28 July, the home affairs committee advised that asylum seekers “should not have been moved to new accommodation during the pandemic without justified and urgent reasons for doing so, or without a vulnerability assessment demonstrating that the move could be made safely”. A spokesperson for the Home Office told the Observer that the department was conducting an evaluation of asylum accommodation and support services in Glasgow during the pandemic. On 24 August, however, Glasgow’s seven MPs walked out of a meeting with the Home Office, in protest at what they said was a refusal to commit to publish the evaluation, or share its results with them. In an open letter, the MPs stressed their dismay and anger at the “mistreatment” of people who were “unceremoniously shunted, at very short notice, from safe, secure serviced accommodation into hotel rooms, for an indefinite period, with no money and no control”.

      Within hours of the stabbings at the Park Inn, the incident attracted the attention of rightwing activists. “Horrible tragedy in a Glasgow hotel housing illegal immigrants,” tweeted the Brexit party leader Nigel Farage. “All over the UK, hotels are filling up with young men who are coming across the Channel every day. It is a massive risk to our wellbeing.”

      Farage’s comments were immediately condemned by a range of politicians, including Scotland’s justice minister. But throughout the pandemic, Farage has used his platform to encourage a sense of crisis around asylum, describing the recent rise in boat journeys across the Channel as an “invasion” and publishing short films on social media in which he claims to “investigate” the use of hotels across the country to house migrants. Members of the fascist group Britain First have also tried to exploit the issue, forcing their way into several hotels in England, confronting and intimidating residents on camera.

      All this, combined with the government’s own tough talk on migration, gives the impression that the UK is experiencing an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers. Yet although there was a slight increase in asylum claims last year, they fell sharply in the first six months of 2020. While more than 2,000 people crossed the Channel in boats during this period – a phenomenon that has dominated the headlines – arrivals by other routes dropped from 8,455 to 4,850, according to the head of UK Visas and Immigration.

      Rather, the increased use of hotels is due to a combination of the pandemic and a housing system that was already struggling to cope. While many hotels were hired by local authorities and government housing contractors during lockdown – both for asylum seekers who had nowhere else to live, and rough sleepers, some of whom may also come from migrant backgrounds – their use as temporary asylum accommodation was already on the rise. According to a recent briefing by the House of Commons library, shortly before lockdown, about 1,200 asylum seekers were being housed in “contingency accommodation” such as hotels or short-term lets, because of shortages.

      At the same time, delays in processing asylum claims – which mean people spend more time in state-provided housing, putting further pressure on space – have soared: about 40,000 people currently wait more than six months for a decision on their claim, an increase of 75% compared with a year ago. In an attempt to deal with the backlog, the Home Office is now considering outsourcing the asylum interview process to private contractors. Today, about 9,500 asylum-seekers are being housed in 91 hotels across the UK. The government has also modified several disused military barracks to accommodate new arrivals, in conditions exposed in the Observer last week as “squalid”. A Home Office spokesperson said that the use of former military sites “will ease our reliance on hotels and save the taxpayer money”.

      Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, is worried that the use of mass accommodation will become the norm. “We are deeply concerned about this shift in asylum housing policy,” he said. “People have come here for protection, and need to be supported to rebuild their lives, not pushed to the margins.”

      Alison Phipps, a professor at the University of Glasgow and an expert in refugee integration, shares Zazai’s concerns. “People are arriving from situations where they’ve lived in fear,” she said, “and the question should be, how do you put people as quickly as possible in a situation where they can live in safety and be able to integrate? You can’t do that when you put people in managed facilities that are separate from the population. It’s not far from a prison regime.”

      In Glasgow, several hundred people are still being housed in three city hotels, which Mears has said will continue until at least the beginning of next year. Some residents have now been there for more than five months. “Hotels are never a long-term solution,” the company acknowledged, explaining that it is still having difficulty finding alternative accommodation in the city. The hardship asylum seekers face was emphasised once again in August, when Mercy Baguma, 34, from Uganda, was found dead at home next to her severely malnourished child. The circumstances of her death are still unclear – Baguma was reportedly seeking asylum, although she was not being housed in one of the hotels – but on 20 September, Glasgow’s MPs called for a public inquiry into all three deaths.

      “We take the wellbeing of everyone in the asylum system extremely seriously,” said the Home Office spokesperson. “These deaths are deeply tragic and our thoughts are with the families of these individuals.”

      Currently, Scotland’s police complaints body is conducting an investigation into the use of firearms at the Park Inn. But this will not examine what caused Badreddin Abadlla Adam to attack people, or whether his actions could have been prevented. At the Park Inn, he was quiet and withdrawn until the night before the stabbings, when he threatened his neighbour for playing music too loudly. “He never came to anybody’s attention,” one witness told the Daily Record, explaining that Adam had become so frustrated at his situation that he’d asked to be allowed to return to Sudan. Residents of the Park Inn, several of whom were left traumatised by the attack, were offered counselling by Mears after being moved; a group of them handed a thank-you card to police officers a few days later.

      An inquiry, said Phipps, would be “about justice”. “The people of Glasgow, just like the people who were seriously injured in the attacks, and the hotel staff whose lives have changed radically over the last few months, deserve to know why it was that people were hothoused in this way, and why people are still living in accommodation that they have repeatedly said is bad for them.”