This post was originally published by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Uganda [Verified Facebook Page @DutchEmbassyUganda] on 19 October 2018.
People can become highly traumatized when they have to flee their country due to war or conflict, thereby often witnessing severe atrocities. Adequate Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) is essential to contribute to the full recovery and improvement of the lives of refugees, including that of family members and the community. However, psychosocial support is often delivered in a fragmented way in humanitarian crises and sometimes only provided after 3 months.
The Netherlands will advocate for more international support to improve psychosocial support for traumatized refugees. In Uganda, we have been working on improved MHPSS for refugees together with Refugee Law Project. They provide MHPSS for South Sudanese refugees in the West-Nile region (Adjumani, Kiryandongo and Lamwo districts), through specialized health care beyond what is available through the main humanitarian support services.
From September 2017 to date, Refugee Law Project (RLP) has screened more than 4,000 South Sudanese refugees for war-related injuries (and referral for medical treatment of more than 25% of those screened). The screening to date has led to identification of large numbers of refugees with war related injuries, as well as associated psychological trauma and related social problems due to witnessing violence, loss of loved ones, loss of property, loss of employment and the capacity to support the family.
The short documentary “21 Years Running” captures the recovery of one of Refugee Law Project’s clients in Kiryandongo and shows the importance of adequate and joined provision of MHPSS for refugees.