Trauma is carried in the body and passed along for generations, a Sidra Medicine counsellor has highlighted.

“The impact of conflict and displacement on the family is both complex and layered, affecting both the unit and its individual members,” said, Manal Samara, a psychological counsellor at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department, Sidra Medicine, Qatar Foundation (QF) .

“This instability causes emotional turmoil. Daily decisions being made – big and small – are life and death. Trauma is carried in the body and passed along for generations,” highlighted, Samara in an article published on QF website.

Samara explained: “One impact we see immediately is the breakdown of traditional roles – mother, father, child – and people are left to fill in the missing gaps when tragedy strikes. Stay-at-home caregivers are suddenly sole financial providers; young children become protectors of even younger siblings – they are robbed of their childhood and are thrown into survival mode.”

The article highlights the example of Zahra Amin, a British-Sudanese national living in Qatar, who narrates her family’s struggle during the ongoing war in Sudan. Initially, when the war broke out, they chose to wait it out in their family home in Khartoum, a decision that weighed heavily on her.

“A week later, things were just getting worse,” Amin said. "My mother and brother decided to take a 12-hour bus ride to Egypt. My father chose to stay with his sister and her daughter, who is disabled and has limited mobility. My family was separated; some were safe and some were not. That month was a nightmare.”

Eventually, Amin’s father and aunt – British passport holders – were among those evacuated to the UK by the British government. Her aunt could take only her daughter with her as a dependent, leaving her son behind.

“It’s important to stress that all those who managed to leave are the ‘lucky ones’,” she stated. “Millions of people remain in Sudan and are suffering immensely from the ongoing conflict – unable to get support or relief.

Another example is that of Azza Nassar, an alumna of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, who left Gaza in Palestine in 2021 to pursue her master’s degree, leaving her family behind. She currently lives in Qatar, while her parents were evacuated to Egypt after the war on Gaza began in October 2024.

“I know I am lucky because though we are apart, I know my parents are safe,” Nassar said. “But in Palestine, we cannot talk about the resilience of the family unit if there are no families left in the first place. Families are being erased from the civil registry.”

Samara points out that evacuees from conflict zones endure hardship, witness destruction, and experience trauma and stress, not only during wars and conflicts but also while integrating into host countries or resettling and building new lives.

“We talk about post-traumatic stress disorder but in Palestine and Sudan right now, there is no ‘post-trauma’. Families are still fighting to survive in the present. We know from the data collected from other regions – Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq – that post-conflict, people will likely suffer from high stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues,” added, Samara.
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