Psychosocial Wellbeing of ‘Vulnerable’ Refugee Groups in (Post-)Conflict Contexts: An Intriguing Juxtaposition of Vulnerability and Resilience

  • Ilse DerluynEmail author
  • Elisa van Ee
  • Sofie Vindevogel


Refugees often find themselves in a precarious situation, characterised by multiple vulnerabilities. The label ‘vulnerable’, as specifically applied to certain categories of refugees like unaccompanied minors, child soldiers or elderly, may ensure due attention to their specific needs at various stages of conflict and in post-conflict situations, yet it risks masking specific support needs at the individual level. Therefore, the allocation of support should always be based on needs assessment at the individual level rather than the categorical level. A complex constellation of factors at the individual as well as contextual level appears to play a part in determining the impact of traumatic events and the post-traumatic reactions. At the contextual level, support oriented towards addressing vulnerability and fostering resilience can help individuals to gain control over their life and life context and to deal with psychological challenges in a way that reduces their impact. This chapter concludes that a systemic, strengths-based, culturally-sensitive, relational framework should guide the design and implementation of future interventions for refugees. This would ensure that they are context-sensitive, based on the capacities and strengths of the target population, and designed to enhance support that a given context offers to its most affected and vulnerable members.


Refugees Vulnerable population Conflict Mental health Resilience Post-traumatic stress disorder Needs assessment Intervention framework 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilse Derluyn
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Elisa van Ee
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sofie Vindevogel
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Social Work and Social PedagogyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Centre for Children in Vulnerable SituationsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Psychotraumacentrum’s-HertogenboschThe Netherlands
  4. 4.The Radboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of OrthopedagogyExpertise Centre on Quality of Life (E-QUAL), University College GhentGhentBelgium

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