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IOM opens mental health centres for Boko Haram refugess

17 January 2017, 20:30

Maiduguri - The International Office of Migration (IOM) has established mental health resource centres across northeastern Nigeria to support thousands of people fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency.

Communities hosting the refugees will also benefit from the nine centres launched as part of IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) project, established in Nigeria in May 2014, following the abduction of over 200 girls from a school in Chibok, Borno State.

Supported by the French and German governments, the MHPSS project has reached more than 100 000 people with counseling, group support, recreational activities, informal education for adults, conflict mediation, and job opportunities since 2014. The project also addresses sexual and gender-based violence, and other protection challenges that internally displaced persons (IDPs) face in camps.

Project Manager, Pauline Birot, said many people who fled their homes to escape Boko Haram, or who were abducted by the group, experienced a lot of psychosocial distress, including depression and anxiety.

“The resource centres are important because they provide a space where people can share their experiences, learn coping mechanisms to manage trauma, find support networks within their community, and access specialized services for pre-existing conditions often left untreated during the conflict, like schizophrenia,” she added.

Also read: Cleared Boko Haram suspects reunite with families

Primarily located in five displacement camps in Maiduguri, the centers were also built in camps in Benisheik to the west of the Borno State capital, and in Bama, Banki, and Gwoza near the border with Cameroon.

These areas were hardest hit by Boko Haram. The state hosts 1,4 million refugees – the largest such population in the northeast.

More than 2 million are displaced across the region, according to IOM’s latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), published in December 2016.

United Nations Nigeria Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said many men have lost their jobs because of the conflict and felt stressed they could no longer provide for their families.

“These are some of the stresses present in camps and in this context that make mental health and livelihood interventions so important,” Kallon said. 






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