Every day we are confronted by the harrowing reality of the refugee crisis around the world, and while some of the most hard-hitting evidence has come in the form of imagery, this latest medical journal entry is rendering many speechless.


A report has emerged detailing a condition known as ‘resignation syndrome’ that is rendering asylum-seeking children in a ‘comatose-like’ state.


According to the research in the medical journal Acta Paediatrica, Uppgivenhetssyndrom is a condition that has been affecting children in Sweden – typically after they have found out that they have been refused asylum, and their futures have been thrown into total chaos and uncertainty.


The medical research describes the physical impact of the condition on the body, revealing that the patient becomes ‘totally passive, immobile, lacks tonus (i.e. body tissue activity), withdrawn, mute, unable to eat and drink, incontinent, and not reacting to physical stimuli or pain’.


Of the 60 children diagnosed with the condition last year alone, some of the patients ended up in wheelchairs or being fed through a tube.



With tests revealing no damage to the patients’ brains, some experts have described Uppgivenhetssyndrom as ‘willfully dying’.


If this all sounds just too awful to believe, consider a case study from The New Yorker’s detailed write-up based on the original research.


They wrote about a little boy named Georgi, who first travelled to Sweden from Russia at the age of five. When his family’s asylum application was denied a number of times by the Swedish Migration Board, the young boy was struck down with ‘resignation syndrome’.


Author Rachel Aviv writes: “He went upstairs to his room, and lay down on the bed. He said that his body began to feel as if it were entirely liquid. His limbs felt soft and porous. All he wanted to do was close his eyes.”


“Even swallowing required an effort that he didn’t feel he could muster. He felt a deep pressure in his brain and in his ears.”



Poor Georgi was eventually admitted to hospital after going four days without eating, and a full week without speaking a full sentence. After being fitted with a feeding tube, he was diagnosed with Uppgivenhetssyndrom.


As well as being fed through the tube and transported around the house in a wheelchair, Georgi was placed in illuminated rooms and ‘immersed’ in his family’s routine until his condition improved.


One aspect of the research that people are finding the most concerning and puzzling, is the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare’s advice for treating the condition.


The manual covering Uppgivenhetssyndrom suggests: “A permanent residency is considered by far the most effective treatment. The turning point will usually be a few months to half a year after the family receives permanent residence.”


Naturally, there has been an outpouring of sadness across social media in response to the publication of the research, with many calling for the Swedish Government to take decisive action.