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J Forensic Leg Med. 2017 Jul;49:37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2017.04.007. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

Assisting asylum seekers in a time of global forced displacement: Five clinical cases.

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Yale Center for Asylum Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, United States. Electronic address:
Yale Center for Asylum Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, United States; UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, MS4, Yale School of Public Health, MPH, 919-946-5654, United States. Electronic address:


According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, over 65 million people were displaced from their homes due to conflict and persecution in 2015. Many physicians express an interest in human rights and a desire to assist this group of refugees and asylum seekers. Physicians are able to use their unique skills by performing medical forensic evaluations of individuals seeking asylum. Some asylum seekers have psychological or physical scars or functional abnormalities relating to injuries or ill-treatment they experience due to persecution. Documenting these findings can significantly improve the likelihood that they will be granted asylum. This manuscript outlines the historical and legal background of asylum. Each of the individuals presented in this paper experienced persecution in different forms. One person was tortured due to his political opinion and one was assaulted because he was gay. One woman sought asylum due to domestic violence, another woman because she had been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and the last suffered severe psychological trauma related to a forced marriage. Five typical clinical cases of medical forensic evaluations are outlined, each with different forms of persecution and physical or psychological findings. Physicians have an interest in using their expertise to help this underserved population. They report that working with asylum seekers is rewarding, intellectually stimulating and a novel way to use their training and skills.


Asylum medicine; Clinical forensics; Forensic evaluations; Human rights; Torture; Vulnerable populations

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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