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IOM’s First Psychosocial Counselling Master’s Degree in Nigeria Aims to Benefit Victims of Conflict

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IOM’s First Psychosocial Counselling Master’s Degree in Nigeria Aims to Benefit Victims of Conflict

It is an effective exit strategy enabling government partners to move forward by investing in people capable of responding to their communities in need

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, September 18, 2021/APO Group/ —

People affected by conflict will benefit from help provided by graduates of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) first Professional Master’s Degree Programme in Psychosocial Counselling and Conflict Transformation in Nigeria.  The degree is offered in partnership with the Centre for Peace, Diplomatic and Development Studies of the University of Maiduguri and aligns with IOM’s global strategy on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). 

“With more than 7.9 million people in need of urgent humanitarian aid in this region, mental health and psychosocial support are an essential element of humanitarian responses for populations displaced due to conflicts, climate change, famine and poverty,” said Olga Rebolledo, IOM Nigeria MHPSS Programme Manager, during the launch of the programme this week. 

“Displacement can bring several sources of stress for individuals, families and communities concerned,” she said. 

The curriculum aims to help professional humanitarian workers gain knowledge on a range of psychosocial issues in humanitarian responses to displacement, migration and conflict-affected societies in Borno State, North-East Nigeria. It was developed to localize community-based mental health and psychosocial support response, while also raising awareness and building the national capacity of humanitarian actors. 

IOM has also piloted similar university curriculums in Lebanon with the Lebanese University, as well as summer schools and specialized courses in psychosocial interventions. The initiatives feed into the Organization’s strategy to build capacities at state level and improve the quality of MHPSS services in every country. 

“The partnership with the University of Maiduguri evolved through IOM’s emergency response, supporting the populations affected by more than a decade of prolonged conflict,” said Vedharaniyam Karuppiah, Head of the IOM Nigeria Sub-office in Maiduguri. “It is an effective exit strategy enabling government partners to move forward by investing in people capable of responding to their communities in need.”  

Already 30 students have enrolled in the programme and will start classes immediately. More students will be admitted next year. 

“One of the programme’s main objectives is to identify and conceptualize the threats to personal and social wellbeing created by displacement, migration and conflict,” said Professor Abubakar Mua’zu, Director of the Centre for Peace, Diplomatic and Development Studies.  

The curriculum was validated in 2019 by key government and humanitarian partners working in the field of MHPSS, as well as academics from within the University. An e-learning feature has been included to facilitate the roll-out in response to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.  

The design, conceptualization and launch of the Master’s degree programme has received funding from the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA)-USAID and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 

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