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Psychosocial Resilience and Capacity Building in North-West Iraq
For Caritas Iraq. In cooperation with and funded by Caritas Germany – Caritas international, with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Since the end of large-scale military operations against ISIL in 2017, Iraq has made significant reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts: Roads have been restored, local markets reopened, public water and electricity services restored, and housing, health facilities and schools rebuilt. As of June 2022, of the six million people displaced as a result of ISIL’s June 2014 takeover of much of Northern and Northwestern Iraq, over 81 percent had returned, while 1.2 million of internally displaced Iraqis had yet to return, including 180,000 people housed in 26 camps – particularly in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq (UNOCHA, 2023). The UN reported that the psychosocial burden among children and adults affected by the conflict more than doubled over the course of 2022. For this reason, both the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq, in cooperation with international and national NGOs, made great efforts to promote capacity building in the MHPSS area and to effectively improve psychosocial care in Kurdistan.

VBC counselors trained
Community Care Givers trained and supervised
Support groups set up

The project, which is implemented in cooperation with Caritas Germany – Caritas international, is a significant contribution to the national strategy of capacity building through sustainable skill and structural development for non-specialist mental health staff.

A pivotal measure is the further training of 18 MHPSS employees of Caritas Iraq, which is one of the largest national organisations providing MHPSS services for vulnerable population, as well as of two psychologists working in the Health Directorate of the Kurdish regional government in Dohuk as Value Based Counselors. The training included a 12-week part dedicated to theory and self-awareness and -reflection in six blocks in 2022 and a practical part in 2023. In addition, 18 MHPSS employees of Caritas Iraq, who in 2021 had completed a Training of Trainers (ToT) for the training and mentoring of volunteer Community Care Givers (CCGs) received support for supervising 28 CCGs who acted as facilitators for 34 low-threshold local MHPSS self-help or support groups, in which, altogether, more than 300 people participated.

IPSO VBC training was the first training of this length and intensity held in Iraq, where previous training for MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) staff was limited and ranged from a few days up to a maximum of two weeks. This measure has enabled Caritas Iraq to expand its existing strong commitment to MHPSS. It also allows Caritas Iraq to implement the full MHPSS pyramid in its projects. For many people living there, it will provide the opportunity to receive rapid and low-threshold psychosocial support without having to use the already overburdened public health system.

The project is funded by Caritas Germany with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

IPSO would like to thank them, as well as Caritas Iraq and the Dohuk Government Health Directorate for the opportunity to introduce VBC in Iraq – for the benefit of many people whose mental health has been affected by the consequences of war and conflict.

In cooperation with and funded by:
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