Healing the Hurt in Armenia

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Migration and displacement is too often expressed in big numbers: thousands of refugees and displaced, tons of aid, hundreds of tents. Yet the reality is that it is composed of a jigsaw of almost infinite pieces; memories, terrors, loss, upheaval.

The short but violent conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in the Southern Caucasus caused  widespread displacement into Armenia (currently over 40,000 people) from the disputed region. IOM received support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to provide primary health care including mental health and psychosocial support.

Since the start of the year, mobile teams have been travelling  around the country to reach displaced populations, providing everyday health services, referral to specialists, and – crucially - counseling services for individuals identified by psychologists, who are part of the mobile teams.

One of the hundreds of people whose lives were touched by this programme was Anahit, a middle-aged woman, temporarily living in a hotel in the spa town of Tsakhkadzor, near lake Sevan in the centre of Armenia.

Her friend Karine remembered how Anahit began to open up after she received some help.

“Anahit did not talk to us and her family members. After the couple of sessions with the psychologists she started greeting us, drinking coffee with us, and recently joined us to gather herbs in the nearby forest,” she said.

The programme reached 700 people of all ages. Through play and drama therapy, displaced children were helped to learn to communicate, express their feelings, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.

“We approached NGOs and child development centres of communities hosting people from Nagorno-Karabakh to involve children in their early learning and family support programs,” said Sofik Minasyan, one of psychologists of the psychosocial mobile teams.

For more information, please contact Nune Asatryan at [email protected]