The challenges and our response
The war in Syria has inflicted unimaginable levels of suffering on its civilian population and has left millions of families with no choice but to flee their homes and seek refuge in other countries.
Jordan, which shares its northern border with Syria, hosts more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, roughly 9 per cent of Jordan’s population. Nearly 80 per cent of Syrians in Jordan live outside of camps. With job opportunities limited and much of what they owned lost in the war, Syrian families often struggle to make ends meet. As a result, 93 per cent of Syrians in Jordanian towns and cities are living below the poverty line, uncertain of if and when they will return home, as the Syrian war grinds on with no end in sight.
International Medical Corps understands the importance of a holistic approach that addresses the needs of conflict-affected people. In Jordan, International Medical Corps:
• provides conflict-affected refugees and vulnerable host populations with primary health, mental health and reproductive healthcare, along psychosocial and nutrition services;
• extends broad services that include protection, youth empowerment, health capacity strengthening, and gender-based violence prevention and response.
Healthcare: With funding from UNHCR, UNICEF and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), International Medical Corps provides vital medical services in Azraq refugee camp, home to nearly 38,000 Syrians. We run two primary healthcare clinics and a hospital in Azraq that together provide more 24,000 consultations a month. In March 2018, International Medical Corps started providing healthcare services in Zaatari camp, home to almost 79,000 refugees, through a primary healthcare clinic and an emergency room operating around the clock that provide about 13,000 consultations per month.
Mental health and psychosocial support: The psychological toll of war on Syrian refugees is immense. Forced from their homes, many have experienced extreme levels of violence and loss. In Jordan, they face pressures to start again in a country that is not their own, uncertain if or when they will return home.
International Medical Corps advocates the integration of mental health care into the primary healthcare system as a means of alleviating pressure on the minimal resources available at secondary and tertiary levels of care, as well as a strategy to reduce stigma in seeking these kind of services. For particularly vulnerable individuals who require specialized psychiatric services, International Medical Corps provides direct care at primary healthcare centres throughout the country—4 in camps and 15 in urban areas. Our multidisciplinary teams each consist of a psychiatrist, mental health nurse, case manager and psychologist.
International Medical Corps uses a strengths-based approach, which assists clients with goal setting and empowerment practices. Our mental health teams receive ongoing theoretical and practical training, including training on child protection and gender-based violence management and referral. We also train Ministry of Health staff and other primary healthcare providers in mental health and psychosocial protection (MHPSS) to enhance resilience and improve capacities of existing service providers while increasing access for refugees and host communities.
Psychosocial Support, Youth Empowerment and Protection: Early detection of a child experiencing psychological difficulties, cognitive impairments or protection issues is crucial for a good outcome. The ability to screen for adjustment problems or cognitive deficits during childhood and teenage years means that these psychosocial issues can be addressed before they lead to behavioural issues. International Medical Corps addresses these symptoms with a family and peer-oriented approach. We engage children and youth with mental health concerns in structured activities that aim to relieve their concerns and improve their psychological and social well-being. Our psychosocial support extends to clients’ families and environment, and ensures that clients receive comprehensive care.
To further support children and youth struggling with psychological problems caused by traumatic experiences, International Medical Corps establishes adolescent-friendly spaces that provide young people with learning opportunities, life skills training and psychosocial support services. We run three Makani (“my space” in Arabic) Centers, where refugees and vulnerable families can access case management services and children can attend organized recreational and therapeutic activities. The Makani Centers also help raise awareness about child rights, as well as gender-based violence and other protection issues. In addition, they promote social cohesion, as they are open to both Jordanian and Syrian children and supported by community-based committees that help identify and refer vulnerable children.
Gender-based Violence (GBV): International Medical Corps facilitates the reception process for new refugees at Azraq camp and shelter allocation for female-headed households, to reduce their risk of encountering violence by taking into account their special needs and vulnerabilities. Our case managers provide psychological first-aid for arrivals, along with dignity kits, and link female refugees with health services in the camp. We also run a safe space for women and girls—known as the Women’s Haven—where we put protection measures in place to help prevent gender-based violence (GBV), and provide support for survivors of GBV, including health and mental health care.