news from the executive office

Refugee Children


A young Syrian woman holding a child in a park full of refugees in tents near the train station, waiting for the transport to the European Union on September 5th, 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The photographs and moving images of families fleeing their countries for safety are disturbing.  We know that the trauma of the ordeal will leave its mark on children and adults alike, and that’s the least of the risk.  I’m glad the USA is planning to accept more refugees for resettlement than originally projected.  Here in Maryland, we’ll have many newcomers, adding challenges and richness to our communities.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Anthony Lake, said recently, “We know that early development is impacted by both positive and negative experiences. We also know that 80% of the brain develops in the first 3 years of the child’s life. In the context of the recent refugee crises, children are being exposed to toxic stress, which could negatively impact their brain development and potentially thwart them from developing to their optimal capacity.  Therefore, it is vital that humanitarian aid for refuges focuses on supporting families with young children to provide a secure and safe environment for their children during these critical times.”

Here is a link to a series of videos about trauma.  The first one is an overview of a kind of toxic stress more common than asylum seeking in the US.  I recommend it for those who are not familiar with trauma.