For Child Refugees, Seeking Historical Answers to Psychological Questions

This week, I spoke with BBC World Service correspondent Celia Hatton about Tehran Children, and we discussed the realities of life as a child refugee historically and today. Here is that segment of the show:


In my book I shared the story of young people fleeing Nazi persecution who ended up in the USSR and the Middle East. In part this is about the arbitrariness of survival; in part a rescue story not unlike the Kindertransport. This has helped the families of those who, like my father, survived in places like the Soviet interior, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India, Iran, Lebanon and elsewhere come to a deeper understanding through a common narrative.

Though the rise of fascism in Europe and the causes of displacement today are different, children fleeing conflict and upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and elsewhere face many of the same psychological challenges and disruptions. Today, there are more people displaced by conflict and other crises worldwide than there were at the height of the Second World War, with nearly 50 million children uprooted worldwide according to UNICEF.

Perhaps the story I tell can shed some light on their ordeal as well, and also on aid efforts, resettlement and rehabilitation of child refugees.