Syrian refugees in need of trauma counselling

More and more Syrian refugees are in need of counselling to help them cope with the impact of the civil war, a Scottish aid agency has warned.

At least 100,000 people have been killed and over two million people have fled Syria since the start of the civil war in March 2011.

Robert Angove, international programme manager at the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), said many refugees were dealing with the terrible things they had seen or were constantly worried about family members who remain in Syria.

"Depression, anxiety, insomnia, neurosis and stress are common," he said.

SCIAF partner, Caritas Jordan, surveyed 950 Syrian men and women refugees between the ages of 18 and 60 in Jordan, and found that one in five were in need of some form of psychological therapy.

Staff at Caritas Jordan have received training in how to identify post-traumatic stress disorder and severe cases are referred to hospitals if they need intensive care.

Caritas Jordan psychologist Lana Snobar said, "The refugees need to be able to talk about their experiences. They need to express their fears.

"We try and get them to do activities that they find relaxing like sport or socialising. Some people who don't get treatment can resolve their issues through prayer or with the support of their family.

"Others develop mild or high psychological disorders."

SCIAF is gathering funds through its Syrian Refugee Emergency Appeal. Together with Caritas Jordan, SCIAF is providing emergency aid to the refugees, including medical care, food, clothes, shelter and increasingly trauma care. Support is also being provided to Jordanians who have opened their homes to refugees.

"Trauma counselling and help for new arrivals with psychological problems who have witnessed atrocities and bloody violence is an increasingly important aspect of our emergency response," said Mr Angove.

"The need is so great that SCIAF is issuing an urgent plea to everyone in Scotland to please give whatever you can to help the innocent, women, men and children whose lives have been devastated by this terrible conflict.

"Every penny donated will help to provide vital food, clean water, medical care and accommodation to the most vulnerable refugees and their hosts."