Protracted conflict and recurrent displacement retraumatises those in northeast Syria and prevents psychological healing

17 Dec 2019
Related Countries
Syrian Arab Republic

As the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year, nearly 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Less visibly, many are also in need of mental health support. Globally, there is an extremely high burden of mental health disorders among conflict affected populations. A recent systematic review shows one in five people have a mental illness.

In Syria, the population has been exposed to conflict and terrorism for almost a decade, and many have experienced multiple traumatic events. The protracted conflict has led to recurrent displacement, depleted socio-economic resources, destruction of infrastructure, and major gaps in the provision of health services. This is having a re-traumatising effect on those in northeast Syria and prevents psychological healing.

Recurrent displacement diminishes resilience and disrupts healing after trauma

The Syrian conflict has resulted in the largest refugee displacement crisis of our time. The latest escalation in violence in northeast Syria forced an estimated 180,000 people to flee their homes. Before Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were forced to evacuate our international staff from the country, our team was working with people who had fled their homes and were living in overcrowded settlements in the town of Tal Tamer. MSF teams witnessed desperate, confused, fearful families, many of whom had lost relatives and had left everything behind—not for the first time.

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