Darfur Refugees in Cairo: Mental Health and Interpersonal Conflict in the Aftermath of Genocide – Susan Meffert MD, MPH, Charles Marmar, MD
May 16th, 2010
Hundreds of thousands of Darfur people affected by the Sudanese genocide have fled to Cairo, Egypt, in search of assistance. Collaborating with Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA), the authors conducted a mental health care needs assessment among Darfur refugees in Cairo. Information was collected using individual and focus group interviews to identify gaps in mental health care and develop understandings of emotional and relationship problems. The refugee mental health care system has a piecemeal structure with gaps in outpatient services. There is moderate to severe emotional distress among many Darfur refugees, including symptoms of depression and trauma, and interpersonal conflict, both domestic violence and broader community conflict, elevated relative to pregenocide levels. Given the established relationships between symptoms of depression/traumatic stress and interpersonal violence, improving mental health is important for both preventing mental health decompensation and stemming future cycles of intra- and intergroup conflict.