Currently, there is limited research on the settlement experiences of refugees from the Balkan regions and in particular Serbia. There is also a need to provide a contextual understanding of the refugee settlement experience. The current study explored the refugee experience of 12 male Serbian refugees (aged 30 to 65), who migrated to Australia following the Yugoslav Civil War (1991–2001). A qualitative, phenomenological methodology explored the experiences of the refugees from their own perspective. Thematic coding of the interview data revealed the two major themes of settlement and traumatic experiences, as central to the experiences of this group of refugees. Language difficulties, discrimination, stigmatization of Serbian identity, multiple losses and grief, and failing of the justice system to establish accountability and provide reparation to the victims were all significant obstacles to successful settlement. Most salient, however, were the experiences of torture and trauma. Participants were still trying to negotiate these memories years after the events. Nevertheless, some participants showed strong resilience and the belief that they became stronger as a consequence of their experiences. We encourage those working with Serbian refugees to help them search for meaning in their stories of trauma.
SOURCE: Bendjo S, Karnilowicz W, Gill P. ““You cannot Forgive and you cannot Forget”: The Serbian refugee settlement experience in Australia.” Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 29 April 2019.
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