Four years after the completion of the military operations to reclaim Mosul and other ISIS-occupied territories of Iraq, the post-war needs of affected civilians remain daunting. We consider it as an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
To this day, the psychological health problems of the population are acute. Families were torn apart by war, occupation, and bombardment. Thousands of people died and many are still missing. Mosul was hit by harsh winters, a drowning incident that claimed over 200 hundred lives, COVID19 pandemic, and the recent closure of IDP camps that resulted in secondary displacement. Strained to the limit, the people of Mosul remain resilient and hopeful. Their physical, mental, and emotional health are crucial elements for recovery. The youth unemployment is currently estimated at 30% (as of year 2020). Children’s need for education, safe spaces, and protection require urgent response to prevent the risk of their generation becoming one of deterioration and despair. Only by addressing these issues shall it be possible to achieve the goal of peace, social cohesion, and the transformation of Mosul’s population from victims and survivors to strong and resilient communities. The most severely affected are the women and children of West Mosul. For this reason, Amalna established its Psychosocial Support Centre for Women and Children in West Mosul in 2017, which was the first and only service of its kind back then.
From the beginning in 2017
In May, 2017, while the city of Mosul was undergoing intense bombardment as part of the military campaign to retake the city from ISIS, scores of civilians were fleeing every day. Bleeding, exhausted, in a state of shock, they stumbled over the frontline in search of safety. We are a small group of 5 health professionals, consisting of 2 emergency doctors from Mosul General Hospital, 2 psychosocial counsellors, and a volunteer medic from Switzerland. We established the Trauma Stabilisation Point (TSP) or clinic in Agidad sub-district, 200 meters from the frontline, primarily to treat injured civilians, most of whom were women and children. Ours was the only civilian-focused TSP during the war in West Mosul. In addition to treating war-related injuries, we also gave clinical care in the field to civilians suffering from hypertension and other chronic illnesses aggravated by the war. We also provided psychological first aid. Four out of five in our group were women.
In June, 2017, we established the psychosocial and trauma-counselling point in the Mosul General Hospital’s Psychiatry Ward. This hospital was the only functioning medical facility in West Mosul at the time despite the heavy damages of the war. The project delivered psychosocial care to women and children affected by violence. Henceforth the Support Center for Women and Children was established. During the first month, over 900 women and 500 children were served in this crowded space.
2018 – 2019
In January, 2018, we transferred the program to a bigger facility in Jawsaq, West Mosul. Here we continued programs in Mental Health/Psychosocial Support, Child Protection, structured activities in art and sewing, and limited medical assistance. By the end of 2019, Amalna has provided 40,000 women and children with life-saving services and mental health/psychosocial assistance.
By providing women and their children with psychological first aid and trauma counselling, we helped guide them towards the path of healing, and we mitigate the risk of post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental health problems in the future. By providing them with a safe space for reflection, sharing, and collective activities, we helped create a community of survivors that foster resilience and sustainable development.
2020 and the pandemic
The year 2020 was marked by our partnership with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft for International Zusammenarbeit). Under its Qudra 2 program, Amalna delivered life-saving MHPSS services to over 8,000 women and children, trained and organized 60 community mobilizers, and trained 150 professionals in the health sector on MHPSS. We managed this despite the COVID19 lockdown and the spread of the coronavirus in Mosul. During this time, our doctors and counsellors provided psychosocial support to COVID19 patients and their families in Al Shifaa Hospital, delivered 200 food baskets to the most vulnerable families, activated a 24-hour counselling hotline, and promoted community awareness on COVID19 prevention through our mobile teams.
2021 – a new year with new hope
The year 2021 opens with continued partnership with GIZ, which expands with 2 vital components: (1) women’s literacy and (2) livelihood promotion and vocational training. At the same time, the core MHPSS program continues to save lives and provide safe spaces for women and children.
Amalna welcomes enlightened members of the community, both male and female, who go by the name of Mosul Council. They contribute their time and resources towards building up their city through membership in Amalna. This membership expansion effort led to Amalna’s creation of an Education Committee, whose task is to help Mosul Council in building a primary school for vulnerable and poverty-affected children of West Mosul.