© GIZ/Olga Sychova


Eastern Ukraine: working through displacement and beginning the healing process

World Refugee Day: psychological advice is supporting people in Eastern Ukraine in coming to terms with the effects of displacement and violence.

Around 1.5 million people have fled the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine since 2014. Many of them have become victims of violence and have suffered a heavy psychological toll as a result of their experiences of displacement. Danylo Khaidarov knows this situation all too well. As a young psychology student in 2014, he left his home town Luhansk due to the conflict. He also had challenges to contend with in the aftermath of this: ‘I had to move a lot and needed some time to get settled in’. Since graduating from his studies, he is now supporting people in Chmyrivka in north-eastern Ukraine who have had similar experiences: ‘I work for the social support centre with people in need who have been internally displaced by the war or who are veterans’.

The help is in urgent demand – internally displaced people often live in isolation in the communities that receive them and have no future prospects. But governmental institutions barely have the resources to offer psychological help. The risk of conflict between the local population and internally displaced people increases as a result of this, which makes the already difficult process of integration yet more fraught.

Supporting people in processing what they have been through

This is why the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is promoting the expansion of psychosocial services in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). GIZ is working together with regional administrations, non-governmental organisations and universities to integrate psychosocial services into local structures. Experts are reinforcing their core competencies in training courses, enabling them to improve their care services and broaden their scope. Around 200 psychologists and social workers completed this training in 2020. In 2021, the number of partner communities has already doubled from four to eight. The introduction of further training for psychosocial experts is also being planned.

Danylo Khaidarov also took part in the training and is pleased to report that, ‘The trainings provided by GIZ have helped me to improve my work, which is so important to our community in a time of conflict’. Although he describes the work as often challenging, he is happy to be able to help people: ‘It’s my way of giving something back to society’.

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