BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global health and emigration of refugees




In general, migration is the movement of humans and animals from one location to another. For humans, it is a process that is completed in two steps, emigration and immigration. Emigration represents the act of leaving one’s resident country with the intent to settle elsewhere while immigration is the movement into a new country for settlement. This continuous process migration happens for many reasons, either by choice or as a result of unfortunate circumstances. People who migrate by choice to settle in other countries  for hope of a better life, are referred to as immigrants in the countries they choose to settle in. On the other hand, individuals who migrate as a result of unfortunate and compelling conditions are called refugees.

Refugees are individuals who fled their countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution, violence, natural disaster, war or death. They flee without any intention to return home due to the situations for which they fled in the first place. As stated in the preceding paragraph, a refugee is different from an immigrant because of the absence of choice in the case of refugees. For this reason global immigration laws differ for immigrants and refugees. For the latter, laws are made from a humanitarian standpoint to protect these individuals, and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors are responsible for identifying refugees for resettlement. In Canada, there are two parts of the refugee system: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people who need protection outside Canada and the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims within Canada.

The health status of refugees remain a significant component of their migration process. Given the reasons for which the emigrate their home countries, it is inevitable to experience trauma and other health conditions. The world health organization recognizes some of the most frequent health problems of newly arrived refugees including accidental injuries, hypothermia, burns, gastrointestinal illnesses, cardiovascular events, diabetes and hypertension. In addition, females are more likely to experience violence as well as specific health challenges that involve pregnancy and delivery-related complications, maternal, newborn and reproductive health challenges. Medical conditions such as psycho-social disorders, drug abuse, nutrition disorders, alcoholism and exposure to violence are some of the risks associated with population movements and they increase vulnerability to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Refugee children require access to suitable health care because they are most vulnerable and prone to respiratory infections and gastrointestinal illnesses due to poor living conditions and hygiene. These poor conditions also lead to skin infections.

Furthermore, the risk of death for refugee immigrants are  high because of the methods by which they flee their home countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of casualties and deaths among refugees  crossing the Mediterranean Sea increased, with over 3100 people estimated to have either gone missing or died at sea in 2015. Having been through so much trauma in the course of fleeing, host countries ought to be receptive and compassionate through friendly policies and actions in order to nullify impact of the negative experiences of refugees. There is need to compassionately and carefully monitor the health status of refugees in host communities as well as foster developments that will improve the quality of their lives.

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