The war in Syria has triggered one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes in recent years. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and more than five million people have had to leave the country. Many survivors have been fleeing for years and live in terrible poverty. The Syrian population has experienced terrible things, they are often traumatized and in need of urgent medical care. In addition to aiding Syrian refugees in Iraq, the Jiyan Foundation also operates a treatment center for victims of human rights violations in Syria.
Since the first uprising in Syria in 2011, more than half a million Syrians have lost their lives. At the orders of the Syrian regime, civilians have been killed by barrel bombs, disappeared by the thousands in state prisons, have fallen victim to Islamist terror, or were killed in the fight against ISIS.
The survivors live with traumatic pasts. They have lost loved ones through bombing, witnessed armed clashes or were detained and tortured for political activities. Refugees and displaced people are suffering from the loss of their homeland and are constantly worried about relatives who were left behind. The vast majority of the Syrian population is impoverished by the loss of property and income. As a result, many suffer from depression and report sleep disorders, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks or aggression.
Over 5.6 million Syrians had to leave their country and flee to neighboring states. About 230,000 of them found refuge in northern Iraq. The majority of the refugees live in the three northern provinces of Iraq, which belong to the Kurdistan Region. About 40 percent of them have been living in aid camps for many years, others are trying their luck in the big cities in the competitive labor market.
With the support of Misereor, we provide Syrian refugees in Iraq with free medical and psychological treatment, social assistance and legal advice. We focus especially on people in camps who would otherwise have no access to health services.
Given the political, economic and humanitarian situation in Syria, the public health system has virtually collapsed. Most of the hospitals are destroyed or only partly in operation. These facilities cannot cope with the high demand for medical services. In addition, there were hardly any psychiatric institutions before the war, and psychotherapy is a previously unknown concept.
To meet this need, we are preparing to open a therapy facility in northern Syria. To this end, we began training for local specialists last year. In our center, Syrians who have survived war and violence should have access to free health services, trauma therapy and social counseling. With mobile teams we want to reach out to internally displaced people in the particularly underserved camps in the region.