Psychosocial support for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Location: Lebanon
Duration: 2014 – 2016
Partners: GIZ, UNRWA Lebanon, UNRWA Gaza
Staff involved: Dr. David Becker, Lenssa Mohammed, Dr. Nimisha Patel
Links: |
Status: ongoing

The GIZ program „Regional Social and Cultural Fund for Palestinian Refugees and the Population in the Gaza Strip“ that is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development aims to support Palestinian refugees in dealing with the ongoing conflict situation and in developing life perspectives for themselves and for the community.

Given the chronically difficult situation of Palestinian Refugees from Lebanon (PRL) that during 2013 has become a lot more difficult through the massive arrival of severely traumatized Palestinian Refugees from Syria in Lebanon (PRS); it has become an important question on how to develop psychosocial services at UNRWA Lebanon in order to deal with the key psychosocial needs of PRL and PRS.
GIZ approached OPSI in order to facilitate an improvement of psychosocial support structures at UNRWA Lebanon. In December 2013 OPSI carried out an assessment of UNRWA’s psychosocial structures for PRL and PRS. It shows that almost all UNRWA departments in Lebanon are directly or indirectly working on psychosocial issues. The staff members have developed different ways of dealing with such issues; however psychosocial support up to now has not been systematically addressed within UNRWA Lebanon, thus there is neither enough staff nor do the necessary structures exist.
Based on these findings a prolonged capacity building process for UNRWA staff members from health-, education-, protection- and relief- and social services departments working with PRL and PRS including school counsellors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, nurses and protection officers was proposed. This not only includes training but a simultaneous development of internal structures and thus a change of praxis on a broad scale and aims to establish psychosocial support as a cross-cutting issue at UNRWA Lebanon.

Key focuses of the capacity building process are:

• Differentiated and multidimensional case assessments
• Differentiated counselling and case management capacities: relationship building, growth-orientation, empowerment
• Functional referral system based on interdisciplinary contact and knowledge of what the others do
• Development of coaching and peer group intervision structures that ensure quality of work and help prevent burn out
• Professional and ethical practice
Throughout a two-year training and accompanying process it is aimed to develop and institutionalize sustainable psychosocial support and counselling structures at UNRWA Lebanon.

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