Updated: Feb 23
Immigration has frequently been associated with violence, crime and brutality. This has been documented in local newspapers and has provoked hatred towards migrants among the natives of the receiving countries. A hatred that has penalised many immigrants in their integration process. But, have we ever asked ourselves the reason for this violence?
NB: This article has not been written with the intention of taking the side of the immigrants or to find excuses for the crimes that some may have committed, but rather to try to explain certain dynamics.
The after effects of the lives of irregular immigrants
Most migrants crossing European borders by sea had to survive unimaginable situations. Most of them embark on this journey in order to flee from war, be it religious, civil or political. Extreme poverty and a great lack of opportunity to succeed in their countries of origin is also one of the reasons to make this journey. They have seen the true face of suffering, hunger and loss. Some of them have witnessed the murder of their loved ones, some have been raped, some have been forced to kill people, sometimes even their own relatives. They have spent a large part of their lives fleeing rebellion, dictatorship or other forms of oppression, whether political or religious.
All these facts will lead them to flee to a better world. A place where they will finally be able to sleep with both eyes closed, where they will no longer have to worry about being surprised by someone who threatens them with a gun. A place where they can start a new life, away from all danger. Europe would then appear to be the safest destination.
They will organise their trip, hoping to start a new life and convinced that they can erase all the images of violence from their brains. They will finally forget all the bad memories. Unfortunately, they do not know that by starting this journey they are initiating a new season of suffering in their lives. They will be handcuffed, sold, tortured and raped before arriving on the European continent.
Their memories and the suffering endured during the journey may weaken some of them psychologically. Some others will show great mental resilience and succeed in overcoming the impact of what they have experienced.
Living in Europe with all these memories
In Europe they will find a new world, sometimes very different from what they had imagined and from what they have been told by the smugglers. They will feel disoriented by all this difference, disappointed by the wickedness of some people and by the racism they will face. They will realise the injustice that is also pervading the West. Some of them will remember the miserable wages they received for years for a day's work in the coltan mines in Africa. This coltan will be used to make these little phone screens that are invading the world. All this to satisfy the system of life in certain countries, including the European continent. The same system that complains that migrants are not poor enough to be helped because they have mobile phones. Those smartphones that contain more than 50% of products coming from Africa.
Coltan is just one example, but we could take gold, diamonds or other raw materials. They will open their eyes and be confronted with the reality of the injustices that are at the root of the misery of their lives and that of their families.
The migrant, badly advised, marginalised and made guilty of everything, could then begin to develop a rage in him, a feeling that could make him violent, to the point of attacking innocent people. It would make sense to put oneself in the shoes of those people who, from childhood to adulthood, have been confronted with atrocious violence. Their mental health challenges us. The added difficulties such as the contempt of some, the lack of work, the living conditions they will encounter in Europe aggravate their situation.
It is therefore important to consider their psychological health right from the moment they arrive in Europe: the traumas linked to their context of origin as well as those resulting from their journey.
The establishment of a reception and psychosocial support service can therefore be a key element in the integration of migrants into European societ