Posted by: africanpressorganization | 3 July 2015

Funding from Government of Italy Strengthens Psychosocial Support for Displaced in South Sudan


Funding from Government of Italy Strengthens Psychosocial Support for Displaced in South Sudan


GENEVA, Switzerland, July 3, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ IOM has received EUR 1 million from the Government of Italy to expand the current psychosocial support for displaced communities seeking protection in UN bases in South Sudan.


More than a year and a half into the crisis, many South Sudanese are unable to safely return home due to renewed conflict and unpredictable security conditions. An estimated 138,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to seek protection in UN protection of civilian (PoC) sites across the country.


“Nineteen months into the crisis, the fighting has stretched the coping capacities of IDPs to their limits,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission David Derthick. “Limited freedom of movement in – often congested – PoC sites continues to exact a toll on IDPs’ well-being.”


The psychosocial impact of the crisis persists, as the experience of violence, displacement and confinement across PoC sites has contributed to community-wide emotional distress.


To help IDPs cope with these experiences, IOM developed a psychosocial support programme in September 2014 at the PoC site in Bor, Jonglei State, where civilians bore the brunt of some of the worst of abuses of the conflict in 2013 and 2014.


The IOM teams offer counselling and community activities addressing the psychosocial impact of the conflict on the lives of the nearly 2,300 people at the site in Bor. The IDPs in Bor often feel trapped, as most do not venture outside of the PoC site for fear of ethnic targeting, and fear for the welfare of loved ones in conflict-affected areas.


The funding from the Italian government will support a one-year project on “Enhancing the Psychosocial Well-Being of IDPs and Conflict-Affected Populations.” The project is expanding psychosocial support programming in Bor, with an increased focus on youth-oriented activities and capacity building.


In addition, the funding enables IOM to extend the programme to support IDPs at the PoC site in Bentiu, Unity State, where an estimated 78,000 people are seeking safety. Due to the volatile security situation in Unity, the Bentiu PoC population continues to swell, with hundreds of new arrivals each day.


“Fear of uncertainty leads to increased stress among the IDP community,” explains Pauline Birot, IOM Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Project Officer. “With this funding, we will restore and strengthen community grassroots support mechanisms.”


IOM’s psychosocial support programme is community-driven and builds capacity by establishing community-based mobile teams and resource centres. IOM will also deploy a psychologist on rotation to provide more specialized services in Bor and Bentiu.


Humanitarian needs within South Sudan remain immense, with more than 2.1 million forced from their homes since conflict erupted in December 2013. Of the USD 1.63 billion requested in the 2015 South Sudan Humanitarian Response plan, only 41 per cent has been funded. More support is urgently needed to provide lifesaving assistance that matches the depth of humanitarian needs throughout the country.



International Office of Migration (IOM)


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