Connect with us

News

Not Alone: Providing mental health and psychosocial Support to Nigerians during COVID-19

Image for post

Image for post

Virtual support and counseling enable family members of returnees to share experiences, and draw support from each other to care for their relatives during the lockdown. Credit: Jorge Galindo / IOM

In Nigeria, COVID-19 has posed great challenges to returnees. Among those worst affected are people with mental health and psychosocial needs.

Movement restrictions imposed by the Nigerian government have made assistance to returnees and their families particularly challenging. Due to these restrictions, returnees with psychological concerns face challenges in accessing dedicated mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services. Moreover, as economic activities came to a halt, caregivers observed symptoms of relapse and deterioration of their beneficiaries’ psychosocial wellbeing.

Under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, a COVID-19 assessment was conducted via phone in the West and Central Africa region. In Nigeria, responses from over 100 returnees were collected in Edo and Delta States, and more than 90 per cent reported that their emotional wellbeing had deteriorated since the crisis began.

Since the start of the pandemic, false information in the media, and the polarization of COVID-19 issues have reinforced general sentiments of uncertainty and anxiety among returnees, exacerbating their existing psychosocial vulnerabilities.

To promote psychosocial well-being in Nigeria’s migration hotspots, IOM provides, among other MHPSS activities, psychoeducation for returnees and caregivers and facilitate referrals for specialized mental health treatment for those with severe psychiatric conditions. Amid the new reality imposed by COVID-19, interventions have been adapted to host remote MHPSS working modalities.

These activities help returnees understand the negative and, at times, overwhelming psychological reactions that arising from the many stress factors they face during the migration journey or upon return.

In the past few months, IOM MHPSS teams organized virtual family support meetings and counseling to enable caregivers share experiences, draw support from each other and empower families to care for relatives during the lockdown.

Below are two stories from beneficiaries who, like millions worldwide, are learning to cope in these uncertain times while building their resilience towards recovery, one day at a time.

Adaeze

During the lockdown period, Adaeze*, the mother of a 22year-old returnee, feared for her family’s health and well-being. “Information about the virus was not very clear in the early days of the pandemic… I was still trying to understand fully how the virus could be contracted,” says Adaeze. While she knew she had to comply with the government’s disease prevention rules, she worried that her daughter would flout them.

“Libya has changed my daughter, she now gets very angry whenever she is advised not to go out, and I noticed that her hygiene has deteriorated so I was afraid she may contract the virus and bring it home.” These worries haunted Adaeze. She would have trouble sleeping, and at times would lash out at her daughter, forbidding her to go out.

On 5 June 2020, Adaeze, who lives with relatives in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, joined a family support virtual meeting organized by IOM. She was enlightened about the pandemic, the mode of transmission and the ways to prevent it.

After these sessions, Adaeze was also able to develop peer-to-peer support mechanisms and mutual psychosocial support. “In the family support meetings, I listen and learn from people’s experiences, before the meeting we chat and greet each other and ask about the people we are caring for, this makes me feel good. I also use the opportunity to voice my challenges while group members listen to me… You know that we cannot visit people to share our problems because of the lockdown so I share it with the group. And I feel better with the counseling I receive,” she says.

“Being a member of the family support group helped me through the days of full lockdown.” Currently Adaeze continues to be member of a WhatsApp group to help caregivers keep close ties with each other, foster experience sharing, reduce isolation and disseminate timely psychoeducation and counseling.

Bukola

Elijah* returned from Libya after an attempt to migrate to Europe. Upon return, the young man showed signs of distress and received specialized mental health care as part of his reintegration in Benin City. He was assisted to start a clothing business, but just as he was recovering, COVID-19 threatened to erode the progress he had made.

As he was taking on long-term psychiatric treatment, his business not only became a source of livelihood but also helped pay for medication and transportation to the hospital. His mother, Bukola*, realized that if his business went under, neither would be able to afford medication, resulting in Elijah’s relapse. “I was worried, my blood pressure kept rising with each announcement of an extension of the lockdown, I couldn’t go to church, I was all alone with my family problem,” she says.

As the situation worsened, Bukola was contacted by a family support group. “In the online meeting I heard other mothers and fathers talk about similar challenges. In the meeting I was able to enjoy good music, dance and play, these have been helpful to my own health.” She was glad to know that she was not alone.

Bukola’s fears never materialized. The lockdown in Edo State was lifted and businesses resumed shortly after. Her son adjusted to the new normal, became productive and showed renewed optimism once again. Bukola is actively making time for self-care, encouraged by the signs of improvement in her son’s psychosocial well-being and socio-economic prospects.

COVID-19 is still a real danger in Nigeria and beyond. But with proper support, people like Bukola and Adaeze recognize the importance of staying healthy to provide quality care for the people they love.

Approximately 70 per cent of migrants assisted by IOM to return voluntarily to Nigeria have been exposed to violence, exploitation and abuse along their journey. IOM integrated approach to reintegration include the psychosocial dimension and provide tailored support to the most vulnerable.

Through July, 1,627 returnees in Nigeria have received post-arrival MHPSS assistance at the airport thanks to the EU-IOM Joint Initiative. IOM’s virtual family support meetings and counseling are funded by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, complementing IOM’s wider mental health and psychosocial support to returnees under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.

  • Names have been changed to protect the identity of the beneficiaries.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
READ  Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
20 + 29 =


News

UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

READ  Hundreds of thousands of people leave Britain due to pandemic

Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

 

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

READ  Africans in China allege inhuman treatment

“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  Refugees Commission begins verification of IDPs in Nigeria

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

READ  Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

READ  Understanding the mental health needs of refugees

IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

Trending