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Updated On: Monday, 16 July 2018
Development Issues

Mental Health Support for Rohingya Refugees

Content by: South-South News

27 October 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is supporting an initiative to provide mental health first aid to Rohingya refugees arriving to Bangladesh from Myanmar. UNHCR said it has dispatched a psychologist to “triage” the mental wounds of the new arrivals, but said much more help in needed.

More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have poured across the border into Bangladesh in the space of two months. Each one carries the weight of the violence, deprivation, and trauma they have experienced.

Turning to China, the Special Rapporteur said there is concern about the direction that the government provides to the media, as well as “its dominance of state media, and its censorship, that is very, very deep.”

Rashida Begum survived a shipwreck to make it to safety. However, she lost her 7-month-old in the disaster, which claimed the lives of 23 Rohingya refugees. “My life before and my life now – I cannot compare them. I cannot explain the loss; it is so great,” she said.

This is mental health first aid, on the frontlines of the Rohingya crises.

Rashida is with the other survivors from the shipwreck speaking to UNHCR psychologist Mahmuda who offers them support and counselling. “We normally tell them, ‘you are safe, you are secure, and you are alive, so acknowledge your life. And also we tell them, ‘you are not alone. We are with you.”

It is a lifeline for these survivors, who despite their resilience must cope with the lingering pain of all they have suffered during their flight from Myanmar.

16-year-old Abdeer Rashid is the head of his family now. His father was shot dead in Myanmar, and his mother drowned when their boat sank. He has trouble sleeping, and worries about his younger brothers.


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