New report: ‘Trust and the Triggers of Trauma. Exploring experiences of the trust between Eritrean unaccompanied minors and their caregivers in The Netherlands’

‘There is nothing natural or automatic about trust. Trust grows and develops in every individual and is shaped by the environment in which a person interacts with other people’ (Eisenhower &Blacher, 2006)

Recently, Tilburg University and EEPA published their latest report for the Dutch unaccompanied refugee minor organization Nidos Foundation investigating the situation of unaccompanied Eritrean minors in The Netherlands. The research focuses on the high incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress in relation to the lack of trust between Unaccompanied Minors of Eritrea and their caregivers. The purpose of this report has been to present findings and conclusions as well as to give a set of practical recommendations.

As the report reads, lack of trust results from ongoing and untreated Post-Traumatic Stress, through the negative feelings that systematically bias the information processing. Healing trauma and building of trust between refugees and caregivers is critical to protect the Unaccompanied Minors of Eritrea in The Netherlands. The report looks at to what extent the lack of trust isrecognised as a critical issue between the minors and care-givers and what can be done to relief such issues of trust. The following overall question guides this research: What are the experiences that undermine trust-building between Unaccompanied Minors of Eritrea and their caregivers in The Netherlands and how do they strategize to overcome such obstacles?

Recommendations that are suggested by the authors to help the efforts of building trust between Eritrean minors and their caregivers include exploring options to change the perception of the way the Dutch asylum system works, such as the requirements for documentation, addressing feelings of misunderstanding, providing adequate information on the background of the Eritrean minors for caregivers, addressing trauma with appropriate tools, and reducing triggers of trauma.

As a conclusion, the report analyzes that trust has cultural and social dimensions and experiences shape notions of trust and what is considered as trustworthy. Post-Traumatic Stress impacts on the experience of trust in that depressed feelings negatively shade information and therefore enhances feelings of distrust. The deeply traumatizing experiences of the Eritrean unaccompanied minors put trust on trial.