Mosul Iraq mental health support | Action Against Hunger

Mosul: Mental health support for displaced families

One month since the 'Mosul offensive' to retake the city began, displaced families are receiving psychological support to ease conflict trauma

By Action Against Hunger

Nov 21 2016

Erbil, 18 November 2016 // Families who have fled Mosul since military operations began a month ago are receiving psychological support, including counselling, in a bid to ease the trauma they have experienced.

Since military operations to retake Mosul began nearly a month ago, Action Against Hunger has helped more than 17,000 people who fled the city and its surroundings.

In Khazir and Zelikan camps, Action Against Hunger's team is providing psychological and social support to the most vulnerable.

“People fleeing Mosul and its surroundings arrive in the camps in a state of great distress, given what they have experienced for two years and the recent fighting and displacement,” says Malourène Cordier, Emergency Coordinator in Iraq. “It is important to reassure them as soon as they arrive.”

Action Against Hunger’s ‘psychosocial’ team go from tent to tent comforting new arrivals, providing them with basic information about the services available in the camp and listening to them. These “psychological first aid” (PFA) sessions also offer an important opportunity for team members to identify people who require specific psychological support. They can then take part in group sessions or individual appointments with a psychologist.

Our preliminary assessments into the psychological needs of people in Zelikan and Khazir camps have revealed significant needs. More than 70 per cent of respondents described themselves as in great suffering, despite more than half (58 per cent) considering themselves safe in the camp.

“These figures aren’t surprising,” says Ms Cordier. “Many people, including children, had to flee at night. They saw corpses on their journey, as bombs continued to fall, and they are now in an unknown environment.”

Water: a basic need that is increasingly in demand in Khazir camp

In less than a week, more than 1,500 families have arrived at the camp, bringing its population to nearly 20,000 people. To reduce the likelihood of displaced children becoming severely malnourished, Action Against Hunger is ensuring there are appropriate sanitation facilities and a clean and ample water supply.

It is responsible for all water, sanititation and hygiene activities in Khazir camp, so every day its staff deliver 500,000 liters of water to the camp growing population. It has already distributed 1,450 emergency kits, including jerry cans, thermoses, jugs, bins and rubbish bags.

“New families arrive daily,” explains Yves Bertrand, emergency water, sanitation and hygiene programme manager in Iraq. “On Tuesday, more than 500 new families arrived. We must be very responsive so that they have water available.”

Despite charities’ best efforts, people who recently arrived at the camp are worried. Ali, a 26-year-old man from Gogjali, told the Action Against Hunger team: “I feel safer since I reached the camp, but at the same time I’m worried. It will be cold soon, maybe it will rain, and we don’t know how long we’ll stay here.”


action against hunger, join
Join Action Against Hunger

Stay updated

Help provide children with healthier futures

All images © Emilien Urbano / Agence Myop