Beirut – In Lebanon, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has launched its first series of training workshops addressing the field of mental health. The workshops are scheduled to take place from April 2014 to April 2015, and are part of a project funded by the European Union (EU), ‘Improving the Living Conditions of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon’. Workshops include a Psychosocial First Aid (PFA) course that is funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The first training workshop was conducted on 2 April at Siblin Training Centre (South Campus) in Saida. The training aims at building the capacity of more than 300 UNRWA staff working in the fields of health and relief and social services to detect mental-health disorders and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and to facilitate referral to case-management services in a timely and confidential manner.
The Chief of the UNRWA health programme in Lebanon, Dr. Najeh el-Sadeq, welcomed the cooperation of UNRWA with the EU and UNICEF, saying: “The component of the project related to mental health aims at integrating mental health and psychosocial support within UNRWA primary health care settings, an important step in achieving our goal of providing quality, comprehensive primary care to our beneficiaries.”
UNRWA Senior Mental Health Adviser, Dr. Rabih Chammay, said: “This is an extremely important development for UNRWA and for the field of mental health of Palestine refugees in Lebanon. This is a step in the right direction, which aims to enhance Palestine refugees’ access to these services and mainstream mental-health services in the community. This will be a long process with many challenges to overcome.”
The European Union, a leading UNRWA donor, has a long-standing history of supporting the Agency’s regular budget, emergency appeals and projects. In 2013 alone, the EU contributed EUR 40 million (US$ 55 million) to UNRWA projects and appeals, along with EUR 95 million (US$ 131 million) to the UNRWA General Fund. EU support of EUR 6 million (US$ 8 million) for the ‘Improving the Living Conditions of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon’ project comes specifically from the EU SPRING programme – Support to Partnerships, Reforms and Inclusive Growth.