Enhancing Palestine Refugee Children's Well-Being through Psychosocial Support

18 October 2022
Reem Ghannam, the UNRWA psychosocial supporter working at the UNRWA Palestine school in Alliance, Damascus, sits with a group of young Palestine refugee girls, engaging them in psychosocial activities. © 2022 UNRWA Photo

On a sunny day, eight-grade students are sitting in a circle in the courtyard of the UNRWA Palestine school in Alliance, Damascus eagerly identifying qualities they admire in their role model. The game, one of the psychosocial support creative activities for students, aims at channeling their thoughts and energy in a positive direction.

Another enthusiastic group of students gathers in a big circle preparing a facial expression of different feelings.  Each student chooses an emotion they want to present. The students help each other practice a clear expression and body posture that fits with the emotion they have chosen and take turns in presenting their emotions.

The eleven-year conflict in Syria has had a devastating impact on every aspect of life for the 438,000 Palestine refugees remaining in the country. Palestine refugee children have been particularly affected by the crisis, exhibiting signs of stress and anxiety, which are predominately caused by protracted displacement, deteriorating socio-economic conditions compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. These children have known nothing but the conflict and are impacted severely by its events in different ways.

Participating students underline that these psychosocial initiatives provide a means of self-expression and motivation, enabling them to develop their communication and group work skills, and allowing them to be seen and heard. They also feel that the school environment is safe and they enjoy interacting with their peers in a protected space.

Thirteen-year-old Aya Qaddoura is one of the children who was displaced with her family from Yarmouk camp and lives in Alliance. “The psychosocial support session gives me more confidence. It helps me in all my work that I have here in my school and at home and gives me a lot of energy. The activities organized by the school psychosocial supporter motivate me. They decrease my anxiety and help me express my feelings," she says. In addition to psychosocial and recreational activities, Aya also participates in awareness-raising sessions about topics like explosive remnants of war (ERW).  "I got the information from my psychosocial supporter and then I went and taught my brothers, sisters and parents,” Aya recalls.

“The psychosocial support programme has brought many positive changes in the school environment by helping students identify their immediate needs, own strengths and abilities to cope with the crisis," says UNRWA psychosocial supporter Reem Ghannam.

UNRWA provides psychosocial support activities to about 50,000 students enrolled in 102 schools managed by UNRWA in Syria. This intervention is made possible by donors such as the European Union.

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