Strengthening psychosocial work

Project description

Title: Psychosocial Support for Syrian/Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced People
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Syria
Overall term: 2015 to 2022



Despite the largely military victory over the so-called Islamic State group (IS), there is still no political solution in Syria. The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the suffering. Around 400,000 people have lost their lives, and about two million have been injured. More than six million Syrians are internally displaced and a further 5.6 million have taken refuge in neighbouring countries. The host countries often have to contend with enormous challenges of their own. This results in a precarious economic, social and health situation for those seeking refuge.

The situation in Iraq also continues to be fraught – the country is facing the challenge of economic and social reconstruction, particularly in the large city of Mosul. Under IS rule, demoralisation set in and religious polarisation increased – factors must be taken into account in long-term reconstruction.

Many Syrians and Iraqis have experienced physical violence, the loss of relatives and other human rights violations in the course of displacement, and all of this has had an impact on their mental health and social wellbeing. The limited capacities of state and civil society and the lack of well-trained personnel make it difficult for people to come to terms with what they have experienced. Interaction between professionals is often limited and consequently their activities are not always sufficiently well coordinated. A case in point here is that not all actors follow the common principles for work in the area of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for refugees.


The level of psychosocial care for refugees in the Middle East has been improved.



Working in cooperation with state and civil society agencies in Germany and in the local region, the project improves psychosocial support for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Middle East. It promotes the institutionalisation of MHPSS approaches by helping projects in the area of education to create an awareness among teachers for the issues involved in work with traumatised children, for example. The project also facilitates exchange between relevant actors and strengthens expertise on the ground. To achieve these aims, the project is developing common principles, supporting the implementation of these principles, and fostering cooperation between projects that offer psychosocial support for refugees and IDPs in the region. Another focal area is the development of local MHPSS skills with the aim of establishing needs-based services on a sound footing.


In cooperation with partners, the project has developed a context-specific and gender-sensitive guidance framework on MHPSS for the crises in Syria and Iraq. This document contains information on how psychosocial approaches can be integrated into other areas of development cooperation and what good MHPSS practice looks like. The German Government presented this paper at the 2019 Brussels Conference on Syria.

Papers on capacity development in the area of MHPSS and on psychosocial support for the survivors of sexual violence have also been prepared together with partners.

The project has financed and/or organised around 30 professional exchanges, study trips and workshops in Germany and the Middle East that have enabled over 800 persons to discuss issues relating to psychosocial support.

The project is working with a team of researchers to develop an employee welfare approach for local MHPSS personnel.


To provide a better overview of MHPSS services in the project countries and avoid duplication, the project has financed a web application that MHPSS actors can use to list their activities for all users in a transparent manner.

The project is supporting other GIZ projects and civil society initiatives that wish to integrate these psychosocial approaches into their work in areas such as employment promotion for refugees.