GENEVA, Switzerland, April 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM has issued a report on psychosocial needs and resources in South Sudan, highlighting serious protection and mental health concerns in a country that has been wracked by conflict as well as major deficiencies in the health care system.
The report is based on an assessment of the psychosocial support needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking protection on the UN peacekeeping compound in Bor. Forty-eight interviews with 192 individuals were conducted during the assessment, together with interviews and focus group discussions with humanitarian actors and community leaders.
The report aims to identify psychosocial needs, resources and gaps in displacement sites, and determine the existing technical resources and coordination mechanisms that could be mobilized in response to those needs. Furthermore, through sharing the report and opening dialogue on psychosocial needs, IOM aims to help build the psychosocial response capacity of humanitarian partners in the country.
The outbreak of conflict in December 2013 has displaced over one million South Sudanese from their homes and taken an enormous physical and emotional toll on the country.
When asked to identify their main feelings, over 80 per cent of the displaced persons interviewed in Bor expressed negative emotions, including fears and concerns, a general feeling of being emotionally unwell, and uncertainty and confusion about the future.
These findings emphasize the overwhelming need for more attention to be given to psychosocial support in the country’s displacement sites.
“Psychosocial support is about helping individuals, families and communities to develop and maintain their existing coping mechanisms,” said Guglielmo Schininá, Head of IOM’s Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication Section. “It is an approach that can potentiate humanitarian assistance as a whole and ultimately pave the way for dialogue among and between individuals, groups and communities.”
The report identifies a series of actions promoting well-being at the individual, family and community levels. These actions include support to activities promoting resilience, such as religious services and recreation activities for children, adolescents and adults, as well as training on psychosocial counselling for social workers within the community.
“The underlying emotional impact of conflict on individuals and families is often overlooked,” said IOM Migration Health Officer Haley E. West. “Failing to address these psychosocial needs can have a negative impact on communities and be a driver of future conflict.”
As a next step, IOM is working to fund a proposal based on this assessment to pilot a community-based psychosocial support project in Bor and other field locations throughout South Sudan.
The full report can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/P002Gu