WHO: World Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants

On 20 July, the World Health Organisation launched its first ever report on refugee and migrant health. Bringing together key evidence about the multitude of health challenges faced by refugees and migrants, the report explores the trends, gaps, and good practices in protecting and promoting the health of refugees and migrants worldwide.

Key to health considerations are the various impacts of immigration detention upon refugees and migrants, with many cases of deaths, suicides, and cases of self-harm attributed to a failure to provide adequate health care and to poor detention conditions. Drafted by the GDP’s Executive Director, the report’s chapter on immigration detention (pages 66 – 68) explores this worrying trend and highlights the various ways in which detention impacts health outcomes—including limited medical screenings, insufficient medical care, poor living conditions, the harmful impacts of isolation, and the exacerbation of—as well as the creation of—trauma.

“The harmful impact of immigration detention on people’s physical and mental health is well documented, although much of the focus has been on mental health outcomes in administrative detention centres located in high-income countries. Data is lacking on health indicators specific to countries and regions across all income levels. However, experts agree on the need “to develop specialized models and practices of care for the increasing numbers of people across the globe who are confined in detention centres (which could be prisons) for reasons related to their migratory status”. Adding urgency to these calls are numerous reports detailing deaths, suicides and cases of self-harming in immigration detention settings; these are often attributed to a failure to provide adequate health care and to the inhumane conditions of detention.”

Read the WHO Report