448 Refugees and Displaced Women
➤ Having identity
either the United
Nations or the
authorities in the
country of refuge can
give refugees some
being forced to
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.
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.
In many communities, women are responsible for providing
most of their families’ basic needs: they grow most of the food,
prepare it, collect water, manage the home, keep the living space
clean, and try to maintain the family’s
health. Away from the home,
refugee and displaced women
must suddenly depend on
outside help to meet basic
needs. Often this help
is not adequate. Some
displaced women may
not have any outside help,
so meeting basic needs is
even more of a problem.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012