Angélica Azevedo - It's the waiting that makes you sick!

Thursday 10 December 2020

Angélica Azevedo is a psychologist in two refugee centres run by Caritas Luxembourg. Currently, with the sanitary crisis of the Covid-19, the mental well-being of the refugees hosted in the centres is of particular concern.

ARE THE REFUGEES AFRAID OF COVID-19?

They are probably less afraid than the rest of the population. Many of them tell me that they have seen and experienced things before arriving in Luxembourg - wars, cadavers, torture - and that, as a result, the Covid-19 is nothing in comparison. Others are very religious and trust in God and his will, if they have to die it is because God wants them to. In fact, at the moment, the Covid-19 is still too abstract for them, most of whom have not yet been closely affected by the disease. 

WHY THEN HAVE WE REINFORCED THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FOLLOW-UP OF THE REFUGEES?

If they are not afraid of Covid-19 it does not mean that the current situation does not affect their mental state, which is already very much impacted by the traumas they suffered before arriving in Luxembourg. On the contrary, the current situation affects them a lot. Everything is at a standstill, their procedure too. The wait for papers and to finally start their lives is becoming interminable, even more so than before. In addition, many activities inside and outside the centre have been interrupted because of the sanitary measures. As a result, most of the refugees have nothing to do all day but wait for the postman and the letter of response from the ministry. It is atrocious! They become anxious, can't sleep at night, have anxiety crises and panic attacks. Some people tell me, I would only like to know whether or not I can stay so that I can get organised and get on with my life. It's the waiting that makes you sick. 

HOW DO YOU HELP THEM?

I give them a space where they can talk. Being able to talk about what is on their minds helps them a lot. They realise that they are not alone. I also give them small techniques that make them feel better quickly, for example, to be able to sleep, which is a big problem for many refugees. Finally, I help them to focus on something other than waiting for the "famous" papers, so that their days are not empty and that whatever the response of the ministry, they have acquired a certain background, for example, learned a language, a trade, which will be useful to them wherever they may live.

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