Hesperian Health Guides
Flight and Arrival
The route to a new place to settle is often very difficult. Families may be separated during their travel (flight). Younger children or older relatives may die of hunger or disease on the way. Women and girls may be attacked by pirates, border guards, army units, and male refugees. All these losses and dangers can make a woman emotionally and physically exhausted even before she arrives at a new home.
Once settled, a woman may face a situation very different from her old home. Often women from small communities find themselves in large, crowded camps that are organized differently from a traditional village or town. Or they may live in cities, often trying to avoid capture by government authorities. Some refugees are thousands of miles away in countries that have allowed refugees to enter and settle there permanently.
Having identity documents from either the United Nations or the authorities in the country of refuge can give refugees some protection against being forced to leave (deported).
In addition, a woman often faces some of these difficulties:
- living among people who do not like her being there or do not speak her language.
- not knowing whether she can return home soon or must stay away for years.
- needing papers showing her refugee status.
- adjusting to new family relationships.
- living in danger if a war is nearby.
- a need for mental health services and medical care because of violent sexual assault.
Living in a refugee camp and being recognized as a refugee by a new government or the United Nations may give women some protection. But displaced women do not have these protections and are even more at risk.