Iraq: Healing Open Wounds After the Reign of IS

Alquosh / Berlin, 08 October 2020

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 offered psychological support for those affected and was striving to reduce tensions during the last two years.

“In ten years, all Assyrians will have left this country. 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.” The statement of an Assyrian doctor reflects the fear that many people carry within them. 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 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.
Linda Zimmermann, project coordinator
A employee of the Jiyan Foundation and some patients are making appointments
The population is offered basic medical care, during which doctors also discuss mental health with the patients.

The downside: Primary healthcare centres are filled to breaking point, and waiting lists for patients needing urgent treatment are long. For this reason, the construction of a health station was started in October 2018. Since then, basic medical care is offered to the population, during which doctors also discuss mental health issues 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
A Jiyan employee speaks to a patient about mental health.

In mobile teams, specialised employees additionally offered weekly primary care to refugees, carrying out instant diagnoses and referring patients to suitable locations.

Jiyan did not make any distinction based on ethnic or religious affiliation and supported instead 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. In order to continue this important approach, it is planned to expand the project to the Iraqi capital Baghdad before the end of this year. A new center is planned there to provide urgently needed psychosocial support to almost 2000 patients.

The project in Alquosh was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Kids in Iraq

International Assistance in Iraq

In Iraq we improve access to basic health services for displaced persons, returness and local residents. They receive medial treatment and pychological support.

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