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Public health lessons for refugee reception: the example of Sidi Bulgayz
  1. Nouhad Laidouni1,2,
  2. Carlos Alvarez-Dardet1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Community Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Preventive Medicine and Public Health and History of Science, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain
  2. 2Public Health Research Group, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain
  3. 3CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Alicante, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Professor Carlos Alvarez Dardet, University of Alicante, Campus San Vicente del Raspeig, Ap 99, Alicante E-03080, Spain; carlosalvarezdardetdiaz{at}

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Conflicts force millions of people to abandon their homes and flee life-threatening persecution, war, and ethnic and political discrimination. From the end of World War II to the present day, more than 59 million people worldwide have become refugees and displaced persons.1 Displacement affects people's health, psychological well-being and economic welfare.2 ,3

The situation of asylum seekers in the context of a humanitarian crisis is a cause for grave concern.4 They are vulnerable because of difficult circumstances under which they live and their health is affected by several factors, including fatigue, lack of food and drinking water, and poor hygiene.5 ,6 These circumstances can affect sensitivity to respiratory disease, malaria, and measles, as well as create high incidence of diarrhoea, which can sometimes account for 40% of all mortality in some camps. However, this can be avoided if appropriate reception measures are taken.7 ,8

In addition, the violence experienced as a result of wars, torture, fight and the loss of loved ones in a traumatic context, creates great suffering and stress. Repeated exposure to violence and terror is a major risk factor for mental illness in refugees, especially children, and can generate subsequent depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder with long-lasting effects on survivors and their communities. The consequences of these experiences generally produce difficulties in resettling and integrating into a new society. However, good reception procedures and social support in the host country exert a positive effect on the psychological development of refugee children.9 ,10

The United Nations defines refugees as those persons who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group or having contrary political opinions, are outside the country of their nationality and unable to …

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  • Twitter Follow Carlos Alvarez-Dardet at @CAlvarezdardet

  • Contributors CAD conceived the study, and NL conducted the bibliographic search and studied the historical figure, Sidi Bulgayz. Both jointly analysed and wrote the paper.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.