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  Europe is telling gay asylum seekers they are not gay enough
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

Solve : *
19 − 4 =


News

Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers

 

The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.

Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.

The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.

He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.

He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.

READ  13 stranded Nigerians return from Germany, Canada, France

“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.

“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.

“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.

“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.

“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”

The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.

READ  IOM assists border control on route linking Ethiopia, Kenya

He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.

He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.

“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.

“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.

“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.

“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.

“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.

READ  Average of 11,500 people boarded vessels monthly from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2019

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

JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.

The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.

The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.

READ  FG announces fresh rules for passengers from UK, South Africa

“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.

“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.

“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.

READ  EU approves Italian aid scheme to support economy in coronavirus outbreak

“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.

“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.

“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.

READ  COVID-19: Count us out of evacuation plans, say adamant Nigerians in US, UK, others

 

 

 

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

IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh

 

IOM, Rohingya volunteers and partners are working relentlessly to assist those affected by this week’s heavy rains in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.

IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.

The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.

READ  EU approves Italian aid scheme to support economy in coronavirus outbreak

Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.

Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).

“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.

One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.

READ  COVID-19: Count us out of evacuation plans, say adamant Nigerians in US, UK, others

Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.

IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.

Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.

The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.

Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.

READ  Two Nigerians drown in Malta

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

Copyright © 2019 Voice for African Migrants. Site Design: Semasir Connect