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After blast psychosocial group support to women and girls, caregivers and children 2020-2021

The Beirut Port explosions on 4 August created significant immediate humanitarian needs and severe long-term consequences. The impact of the explosions extended six kilometers from the epicenter, causing what can be categorized as ‘severe damage’; 10 kilometers with ‘moderate’ damage; and up to 20 kilometers with ‘light’ damage.

The impact of the explosions adds to an already critical situation faced by Lebanon due to a severe economic and financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. The trauma suffered in the explosions will extend beyond the physical reconstruction. Mental health needs will remain manifest, especially for already vulnerable populations. Health care and first responders may also require dedicated attention. Social norms and taboos may deter many from seeking professional assistance. In addition, socio-economic pressures may make the cost of medical treatments prohibitive for many families, many of which had exhausted their savings due to the economic situation prior to the explosions. Vulnerable groups such as Syrian and Palestine refugees, migrant workers and informal sector workers particularly struggle to pay health costs. Finally, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has increased during the COVID-19 outbreak and it is likely that the current crisis will exacerbate pre-existing risks. As the economic situation deteriorates and families shelter together, domestic disputes tend to intensify and might lead to violence against the weakest family members, often women, children and LGBTIQ+. Limited infrastructure to provide health services, the general state of insecurity, and lack of safe spaces following the explosion is likely to prevent people from reporting the incidents and getting assisted

About the Project:

The project provides a full scope of psychosocial and protection services to support the most vulnerable parents/caregivers, children, women and girls affected by the explosion in Beirut. It helps them to cope with trauma, loss, feeling of helplessness and to become reconciled to everyday life. Preventing distress and suffering developing into something more severe, it provides specialized services, PSS sessions, art therapy, music therapy, mindfulness sessions for stress reduction, support groups for children, caregivers and women and girls, individual therapy and parental guidance. It helps victims of trauma to feel safe and grounded in the present moment and prevent them from feeling overwhelmed or ‘flooded’ as the traumatic memory is processed.

Using support group and the healing power of art to express emotion accesses both visually stored memory and body memory. It provides the opportunity to engage the mind, the body and the emotions into a collaborative expression. It assists the individual's capacity to self-regulate, affect and modulate the body's reactions to traumatic experiences in the earliest stages and to set the stage for eventual trauma integration and recovery. The art allows for a non-verbal telling, which can make them feel safer and more likely to share their experience; they will grow in confidence and self-esteem.

This project is implemented by Red Oak with funding from Stitching Benevolentia and support from the International Rescue Committee. It collaborates with Khelkhal, an initiative of the SHBPP at AUB.