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Migratory trauma in unaccompanied minors in Africa. Analysis of vulnerability and adaptation factors Volume 95, issue 8, Octobre 2019


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1 Psychiatre, Hôpital Pierre Janet, Groupe hospitalier du Havre, 47 rue de Tourneville, 76600 Le Havre, France
Doctorante en psychologie, Université Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France
2 Pédopsychiatre, Maison de Solenn, MDA Cochin, AP-HP, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France
3 Psychologue clinicien, docteur en psychologie clinique, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France
4 Professeur de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent, Université Paris 13, Cesp-Inserm, AP-HP, Hôpital Avicenne, Service de psychopathologie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent, Bobigny, France
5 Professeur de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent, Chef de service de la Maison de Solenn-Maison des Adolescents de Cochin, APHP, F-75014 Paris, France
Université de Paris, PCPP, F-92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, France
CESP, Fac. de médecine - Univ. Paris-Sud, Fac. de médecine - UVSQ, Inserm, Université Paris-Saclay, 94805 Villejuif, France
* Tirés à part

This study explores conceptions of the notion of unaccompanied minors (UM) in Senegal and analyzes the resources and coping mechanisms of these minors when confronted with migratory traumas. Interviews with the main actors in the care of these minors have shown that they are perceived as being children in difficulty as much as national children in difficulty. The community organization for the reception of these children resembles a reconstitution of the family unit that has been broken apart by migratory separation and forms a niche for sharing, solidarity, and support. The care does not focus on the intrapsychic suffering of these minors. In addition, interviews with three minors showed that their adaptation was improved by the support of resilience tutors, extra-curricular activities, and learning local languages. The authors also noted that the use of home country foods and the minors’ mother tongue contributed to the emotional regulation of traumatic memories and the identity reconstruction of these minors. These findings could contribute to improving the care of UMs on a global scale.

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