Years of conflict, violence and recurring climatic shocks have led to protracted displacement and economic hardship in Somalia. Currently, around 2.6 million people are internally displaced, 40% of whom live in extreme conditions. This situation has resulted in widespread trauma, social deprivation and drug addiction, with devastating consequences for people’s mental health. A WHO situation analysis in 2010 estimated that one-third of Somalia’s population suffers from some form of mental health problem, in a country where two-thirds of the population are under 30 and in. had to live with violence all their lives. Despite this, mental health and psychosocial support services remain largely non-existent in the country, while stigma prevents many people from seeking help.
It is in this context that WHO, as the lead agency in the field of health, has joined forces with the Somali health authorities, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund to develop a unique project entitled “Improving Psychosocial Support and Mental Health Care for Young People. Affected by Conflict in Somalia: A Socially Inclusive Integrated Approach to Peacebuilding. The overall objective of the project is to improve access to mental health and psychosocial support services for conflict-affected youth in Somalia, using an approach that contributes to peacebuilding through community reconciliation and social integration. The project was officially launched at a ceremony in Mogadishu in March 2020, attended by the Federal Ministry of Health, HE Dr Fawziya Abikar Nur.
To achieve this goal, all project partners will work together to: train health workers to integrate mental illness care and treatment into the delivery of primary health care services in health facilities; create community-based psychosocial support structures and services where young people are mobilized to provide these services themselves and carry out awareness-raising activities; and conduct a study on the links between mental health, conflict and peacebuilding in Somalia, with a particular focus on youth and gender dynamics. Indeed, these activities aim to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health and psychosocial disorders, improve social cohesion and reduce the deprivation of the right to vote and the marginalization of young people – a recognized driver of conflict – by giving thus directly to young people the means to be agents of peace and positive change. in their communities.
The project directly targets 26,500 people living in IDP camps in Kismayo, Baidoa and Dollow, with a focus on young women and men, as well as their families. An additional 288,520 people are also expected to benefit indirectly from this project.
As the first venture of its kind in Somalia, in which an institutional response to mental health and psychosocial issues is undertaken as a means of overcoming a critical obstacle to reconciliation and lasting peace in the country, WHO and all project partners look forward to taking advantage of this unique situation. opportunity to improve and expand access to mental health services across the country.
WHO expresses its sincere thanks to the United Nations Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund Youth Initiative for its generous support of this vital project and encourages other partners to step up their support to cope. to the silent mental health crisis in Somalia.
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