This week, we feature a small sample of the images from the World Press Photo Exhibition. This image (right) is not one of the most mind-blowing on first sight, but its caption is haunting.
Taken in Sweden, the photo is of sisters Djeneta (right) and Ibadeta. They’re Roma refugees, from Kosovo. They have something known as resignation syndrome – in Sweden they call it uppgivenhetssyndrom. They don’t move, speak, eat, drink or respond to any physical stimulus at all. Djeneta has been this way for two-and-a-half years, and Ibadeta for more than six months.
And here’s the really strange thing. The condition is believed to exist only among refugees in Sweden. The causes are unclear, but most doctors agree that trauma, stress and depression are big factors. No one knows why this is only happening in Sweden, and so far only to refugees aged 7 to 19, mainly from ex-Soviet countries or the former Yugoslavia. “For many, the syndrome is triggered by having a residence application rejected,” reads the caption. “Granting residence to families of sufferers is often cited as a cure.”
With enormous strength, I’m refraining from saying something tedious and arguably inaccurate about how lucky we are to live in New Zealand. Although, as you look through some of the photos (starting on page 8), feel free to think it yourself.
Title: Resignation Syndrome © Magnus Wennman