Iraq: Open Wounds After the Reign of IS

Berlin, 01. October 2019

During the regime of Islamic State (IS), the Iraqi city of Alquosh has taken in many traumatised refugees. Our partner organisation Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights is offering psychological support for those affected and is striving to reduce tensions.

“In ten years, all Assyrians will have left this country,” one Assyrian doctor predicts. “People are leaving because they feel that they are not welcome, and because it is only a question of time until Islamic State is back.” When IS was pushed out of Nineveh Province in 2017, it not only left many dead but also many wounded souls, deep mistrust and fears of further tensions. Nineveh Province is home to Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Kurds, Yazidis and Assyrian Christians. Especially non-Sunni inhabitants were tortured, raped or enslaved.

The population is offered basic medical care, during which doctors also discuss mental health with the patients. Photo: Jiyan Foundation

The Jiyan Foundation looks after the traumatised victims. “Jiyan is currently the only actor on site to be able to offer psychological treatment in line with Western standards,“ Johanniter project coordinator Andreas Hagen explained after visiting the area. The downside: Its primary healthcare centres are filled to breaking point, its waiting lists for patients needing urgent treatment are long. For this reason, the expansion of a health station was commenced in October 2018. The population is offered basic medical care, during which doctors also discuss mental health with the patients. In a further step, Jiyan offers opportunities for diagnosis and psychological treatment.

Psychological Interventions with Mobile Teams

A Jiyan employee speaks to a patient about mental health. Photo: Jiyan Foundation

In mobile teams, specialised employees offer additional weekly primary care to refugees, carry out instant diagnoses and refer patients to suitable locations. Jiyan makes no distinction based on ethnic or religious affiliation and instead supports a dialogue between the different groups in order to reduce long-term conflict potential. This is because Alquosh is situated on a constantly changing border between Kurdistan and Central Iraq which has seen tensions for a long time.

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