Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) held a ceremony at the UNRWA Haifa School in Beirut to mark the end of an eight month GIZ project entitled, “Strengthening Psychological Support for Palestine Refugees from Lebanon and Palestinian Refugees from Syria”.

The ceremony highlighted the longstanding support of the Government of Germany to Palestine refugees in Lebanon. This project is part of ongoing GIZ support to the Agency aimed at building a more sustainable structure for the provision of psycho-social support services. This has included strengthening technical support, interdisciplinary work, as well as coordination between mental health and psycho-social support services (MHPSS) within UNRWA and amongst external actors and national coordination structures.

In addition to this, progressive capacity building activities were conducted, including advanced trainings and technical support targeting a diverse range of UNRWA personnel, including social workers, school counselors, nurses and protection staff. The project also introduced peer support groups for staff working on MHPSS; a formalized, professional forum which serves as a space for additional technical support, and mutual exchange of experiences and solutions. This activity targeted approximately 270 front-line staff from all Agency programs across Lebanon.

The project included activities that aimed at empowering and enhancing the resilience of adult and child Palestine refugees through community engagement, participation and family/parent support. Over 300 community members participated in awareness sessions on psycho-social support and wellbeing, including members of the Parent and Teacher Committees as well as Women’s Committees.

A collaborative referral system was implemented in Saida and Tyre areas, through continuous GIZ support. This enhanced coordination and promoted teamwork between interdisciplinary staff. Some 230 front-line and managerial staff attended orientations and workshops about the referral system. These informational sessions also allowed for the maintenance of an updated service directory of external services for Palestine refugees.

The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone thanked the Government of Germany for their ongoing support to Palestine refugees: “I would like to highlight Germany’s long standing support for Palestine refugees in Lebanon. GIZ is an important partner to UNRWA and their interventions are essential to addressing the psychological and emotional wellbeing of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, which contributes substantially to many aspects of their life. This work empowers refugees, strengthens family and community support structures, and provides tools for positive coping.”
Mrs. Samira Kheirallah, Team Leader at GIZ in Lebanon, thanked UNRWA for the very trustful and fruitful cooperation: “It is very impressive to see how much efforts UNRWA staff are investing in strengthening the psychosocial wellbeing of Palestinian refugees. Therefore it was very crucial that the project on the one hand developed the capacities of UNRWA’s staff in the field of psychosocial support. At the same time the project focused on the wellbeing of UNRWA staff through creating spaces for mutual support within psychosocial peer support groups.”

The Government of Germany has been a strong partner to the Agency. In 2017 alone, Germany contributed US$ 76.5 million to the Agency, helping to provide life-saving services to more than 5.4 million Palestine refugees across the Middle East.

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