UN Migration Agency Opens Recreational and Counselling Centre for Refugees, Host Communities in Lebanon
Beirut – IOM, the UN Migration Agency last week (07/11) opened Al Multaqa – Meeting Space, a centre for community building and psychosocial support in Baysariyah, Lebanon, in cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs and the municipality of Baysariyah. The centre is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and addresses the psychosocial needs of both Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities.
Al-Multaqa provides a range of recreational and psychosocial support activities, including dialogues and discussions, awareness raising sessions, cultural, educational and livelihood initiatives, and psychological counselling with an aim to improve integration and resilience building. Activities target different groups of beneficiaries including children, youth, women and elderly.
“Al-Multaqa is an important milestone in IOM’s activities in Lebanon supporting both Syrian and host communities,” says Fawzi Al-Zioud, IOM Lebanon Head of Office. “It aims to target 20,000 beneficiaries over the next 12 months,” he added.
“The centre is a space of togetherness,” said Guglielmo Schinina, IOM Head of Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication. “Migrants, refugees and host communities are all people with a same core of fears, needs, and personal and emotional resources. More than five years after the crisis started, it is important not to consider this an emergency any more but to create spaces where all parts of these new communities can meet and relate, and overcome their problems based on their shared resources.”
Today, the village of Baysariyah hosts 18,000 inhabitants, of which 5,000 are citizens of the village; 5,000 are Lebanese citizens internally displaced, and around 8,000 are Syrian refugees. In the last decade, the exponential growth of the village’s population – the number of inhabitants had tripled – caused tensions to rise, and the host community to struggle in assimilating the new arrivals.
“We are confident that Al-Multaqa Center can become a landmark for Baysariyah’s community,” says Antonio Bottone, programme officer of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Hiam Abd Alnabi, representative of the director general of the Ministry of Social Affairs confirmed that the space is for everyone. “It will help build the capacity and resilience of different groups, namely children, women and the elderly and will indeed strengthen social cohesion between Syrians and Lebanese.”
Al-Multaqa’s opening event was attended by representatives from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, IOM, the Ministry of Social Affairs, UN agencies, NGOs and a cheerful crowd of Lebanese and Syrian women and children, who attended performances organized by IOM staff, Clown Me In – a theatre company, and the children involved in the activities of the centres.
For more information, please contact Narsis Armani, IOM Lebanon, Tel: +961 1 841 701, Email: [email protected]