First Psychological Aid for Internally Displaced People in Ukraine

18 Jul 2014

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“Now I know how to help them. I know what to tell them and what to do”, says Oksana Tsegelnyk with a reassuring smile on her face. A 40-year old social worker from Luhansk is one of the thirty participants who came from the conflict zones in Eastern Ukraine for a week-long training on the first psychological aid  for internally displaced people (IDPs) and people living in the effected areas, organized jointly by the United Nations Development Programme and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 87,000 people had to leave their homes in the conflicted areas in Luhansk and Donetsk regions to save their lives. People in the areas affected by violence and fighting continue to face security concerns and limitations in accessing the full range of essential services. Serious human rights violations, including torture, abductions and killings, have been reported.

According to Irina M. Pinchuk, Deputy Director of the Department of Family and Children of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, social workers are the first people contacted by those seeking psychological support and assistance in the conflict zones. Even when the hostilities will be over, most people from these areas will still need qualified help to overcome the post-traumatic syndrome.

During the workshop, the social workers were trained by experienced psychiatrists, physicians and psychologists.  Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry and Addiction Health of Ukraine, Doctor of Medical Sciences Irina J. Pinchuk pointed out that vulnerable groups, including children, adolescents, pregnant women and elderly, need priority attention. Natalia Scherbyna and Tetiana Paliyenko, two experienced volunteer practitioners from Maidan psychological aid group, shared do’s and don’ts for working with people who survived or witnessed violence in the conflict zones.

“This year Ukraine for the first time has faced the problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and UNDP stands ready to assist the Government of Ukraine to resolve it,” said Inita Pauloviča, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ukraine.

“The training that we have organized jointly with the Ministry is highly practical and is tailored to address the needs of the people living in the affected areas and those who had to leave. Social workers who are often the only help available in the conflict zones should be well-equipped to provide the first psychological aid to the people in Luhansk and Donetsk”, says Olena Ivanova, project manager of UNDP Project “Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine”.

 

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United Nations Development Programme «Support to the Social Sector Reform in Ukraine»

The project supports the Government of Ukraine and the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine in accelerating the implementation of reforms in the social sector and achieving Ukraine’s short- and mid-term social and economic development goals.

Since the beginning of the project implementation in 2011, proposals have been drafted for pension reform in Ukraine, administrative reform in the social sphere, and the optimization of institutions that provide social services. Moreover, over 26 regulations on social services have been developed.

With project support, over 1,200 representatives of departments of social protection and service providers from all regions of Ukraine were trained on the new issues of social service planning, management, and delivery (such as assessment of community needs in social services, social commissioning, quality control, standards, public awareness, calculation of costs of social service, etc.).

Advisory support was given to the local authorities of all regions of Ukraine for implementing social commissioning; local authorities and social institutions in Poltava oblast piloted a model for public awareness on social services.