World Press Photo 2020

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Resignation Syndrome (RS) renders patients passive, immobile, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent and unresponsive to physical stimulus. It affects psychologically traumatised children in the midst of lengthy asylum processes, and seems most common in Roma and Yazidi children as well as those from the Balkans.

It was first noted in the late 1990s and thought to be confined to Sweden, though cases have since been reported in the offshore refugee detention centre run by the Australian government in Nauru. Remission and gradual return to normal function occur after life circumstances improve.

Ewa, 15, succumbed to RS while her family members were trying for asylum in Sweden and threatened with deportation to Poland, which had been their country of first arrival as refugees. They feared being sent back to Armenia. The family was deported to Poland, despite Ewa's illness, but she recovered eight months after they arrived.


Armenian girl Ewa sitting in a wheelchair, flanked by her parents, in a refugee reception centre in Podkowa Lesna, Poland, on June 1, 2019. The 15-year-old recently woke up from a catatonic state brought on by Resignation Syndrome. PHOTO: © TOMEK KACZOR, POLAND, FOR DUŻY FORMAT, GAZETA WYBORCZA