Strengthening psychosocial support for Palestinian refugees from Syria
Title: Strengthening psychosocial support for Palestinian refugees from Syria
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2017
Of the approximately 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, 455,000 are currently registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Lebanon. In the wake of the conflict in Syria, the number of Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon has risen steadily since the end of 2012. The majority are seeking refuge in Palestinian refugee camps, which were first set up in 1948.
The influx of new refugees from Syria is threatening to overwhelm not only the refugee camps, but also UNRWA and the entire host country.
Palestinian refugees from Syria, frequently traumatised by their experiences of war and migration, depend on the social, education and health services provided by UNRWA. The psychosocial support structure at UNRWA is not standardised and, especially in light of the huge influx of Palestinian refugees, requires strengthening and further development.
Just thirty-five per cent of school-age Palestinian children and young people from Syria in Lebanon currently attend UNRWA schools. Many parents choose not to send their children to school owing to their traumatic experiences. Additionally, the students from Syria often find the difference between the Syrian and Lebanese curriculum overwhelming.
Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon are better able to cope with the ongoing conflict situation due to improved psychosocial support services and structures at UNRWA and refugee camps.
The aim is to further develop and standardise psychosocial support services at UNRWA in Lebanon. Counsellors and teachers will also receive training on how to deal with stress and conflict situations so as to improve the efficiency and quality of psychosocial support. Newly constructed and upgraded counselling rooms at UNRWA schools will provide support staff with the facilities they need to work in a professional manner, and will offer Palestinian refugees a safe place and the opportunity to relax.
At the same time, efforts to scale up psychosocial first aid in the Palestinian refugee camps will be intensified. This will involve assisting volunteers in establishing psychosocial support services such as self-help groups by providing them with the necessary skills and support.
The effects of the ongoing conflict and crisis situation will be lessened through more extensive and professional support services at UNRWA and in refugee camps in Lebanon. Psychosocial first aid will enable Palestinian refugees to talk about their experiences and develop coping mechanisms. The measures will also encourage more children to attend school and achieve better results.