With the recent events in Lebanon, our project and sessions have been halted for 13 days for security reasons and road blockage. Now that the situation is relatively back to normal, the center will reopen and continue to welcome young Syrian refugees affected by war.
We are trying to continue to keep these centers open in 2020. Integrating mental healthcare and psychosocial support into humanitarian efforts is important and contributes to societies' ability to recover from conflict, rebuild peaceful societies, and prevent future conflict.
A recent World Health Organisation study revealed the effect of violent conflict on people’s mental health is even higher than previously thought. Researchers found that one in five people in post-conflict settings has depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. This makes it extremely challenging to rebuild societies affected by conflict – even after the fighting stops. Time and again we see not only the impact of trauma on the individual, but also on the very fabric of society, in the way people relate to each other, how they solve problems and bring up their children.
As an organisation with over 30 years’ experience building peace after brutal conflicts, we have been pushing for this as a way of investing in societies’ ability to recover from conflict, rebuild peaceful societies, and prevent future conflict.
Indeed, this is what we have been doing in our peace education project in Lebanon – an approach that involves training educators to promote peaceful interaction between children and young people through building respect for diversity, creating safe spaces and providing specialist support for children to deal with trauma, and restoring social support networks.
This approach has been successful in supporting children and young people to resolve tensions through dialogue and listening to others, and to manage and express anger in non-violent ways, thus helping them heal and regain a positive self-identity. This in turn helps lay the foundations for building social cohesion, benefiting individuals and communities alike.
Building peace takes time and patience and a willingness to chip away at the often hidden, psychological, impacts of conflict as well as the physical ones. Examples like our peace education project in Lebanon demonstrates that this can be done, even in the most difficult circumstances.
We thank you very much for continuing to support this important work.