Syria – IOM, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Directorate General for Development Cooperation, has launched a EUR 1.5 million programme to increase the capacity of formal and informal actors to provide psychosocial support to people affected by the crisis in Syria and neighboring countries.
The project will initially aim to train some 1,210 professionals and volunteers in Damascus, Rural Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Lattakia in various aspects of psychosocial support in emergencies.
It will also distribute some 50,000 self-help booklets, during distributions of food and non-food relief items, to reach a total of 270,000 indirect beneficiaries in remote areas by the end of 2013.
The initiative will provide basic training to front-line workers, collective shelter managers and carers in orphanages on how to cope with the emotional challenges faced by their beneficiaries and how to avoid causing them any further harm.
The project will also offer a series of specialized trainings in specialized counseling, art-based psychosocial activities and small-scale conflict management for psychosocial professionals.
Psychosocial support is desperately needed in conflict-affected communities in Syria. Feelings of anger, fear, uncertainty about the future, sadness and disorientation are widespread, particularly among the internally displaced population.
Because of the protracted nature of the crisis, the spontaneous resilience of the population now needs to be supported by targeted interventions, according to IOM’s Head of Psychosocial and Intercultural Communication Guglielmo Schininà.
Relief professionals, especially those dealing with psychosocial support, live with the double burden of being affected themselves and exposed to the terrible experiences of others, many of whom are dealing with personal losses, grievances and high levels of anger. Building their capacity and supporting them is vital for the wellbeing of all those affected, he notes.
In the second phase of the project, IOM, which co-chairs with UNHCR and IMC the IASC Technical Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in the Syria, hopes to organize an Executive Masters programme in “Dialogue and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Torn-Societies”.
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