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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 190-194

‘Against all odds’: UNHCR's mental health and psychosocial support programme for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced Syrians

1 International Associate Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Officer for UNHCR Syria, currently working from Amman
2 National Health Officer for UNHCR Syria, based in Damascus
3 National Senior Psychosocial Case Worker for UNHCR Syria, based in Damascus
4 National Senior Community Services Assistant for UNHCR Syria, based in Damascus
5 Regional Senior Public Health Officer for UNHCR covering Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. He is based in Damascus and frequently travels to Lebanon and Jordan
6 Chief of the HIV and Public Health Section for UNHCR, based at UNHCR's Headquarters in Geneva

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

Intensified fighting and insecurity in Damascus has limited the ability of the Iraqi refugees, displaced Syrians, partners and staff to physically access many of the fixed facilities offering mental health and psychosocial services. Those that do, have to travel substantial distances through checkpoints and ‘hot areas’. However, before the conflict in 2011, UNHCR Syria was already in the area, operating a comprehensive mental health and psychosocial support programme for Iraqi refugees, building on the resources and capacities of the refugee population. In 2012, this programme was opened to support Syrians affected by conflict through a mixture of (mobile) individualised case management, family and community level supports provided by outreach volunteers, and targeted assistance to displaced persons living in collective shelters. So, while not making the headlines, the quiet, day-to-day activities of humanitarian workers providing mental health and psychosocial support services to an increasingly distressed population continue, against all odds.

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