Fixing post-conflict psychosocial pressures

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History clearly recorded the occurrence of war and its dangerous impacts on the lives of individuals, families, and the community members in general. It is known that war, apart from causing devastating impacts on the health and psychological wellbeing of human beings; it highly affects countries’ economic activities through destructing expensive infrastructure, damaging public and private properties and service rendering facilities anddisrupting development activities as well as causing employees’layoff.

The environment and animals which are the backbone of the society also suffer a lot due to the impact of war and might need longer periods of time to recover. Any war that may occur in a given area will bring numerous challenges at an individual, families, community, and national levels.

Following this, people who are residing in areas ravaged by war might be exposed to starvation, serious health problems, and unable to lead their life peacefully and calmly unless comprehensive and wide-ranging measures are undertaken to support them.

According to mental health experts, disasters, whether natural, for example after a tsunami, or manmade as in war, are now recognized to cause a variety of psychological and psychiatric disorder. These could range from adaptive and resilient coping responses in the face of catastrophic events to understandable non-pathological distress as well as a number of maladaptive behavioural patterns to diagnosable psychiatric disorders.

Psychiatrist and Former Addis Ababa University College of Health Science Chief Executive Director Dr.DawitWondimagegn said that understanding comprehensively the depth and width of the challenges that the war has inflicted on is fundamental to ease the problems.

Individuals with first hand observation during the war might never forget thetraumatic incidents and develop feeling of stress, anxiety, acute depression, fearfulness of everything, and isolationafter the war. Thus, different measures should be taken by the government, relief agencies, media, and religious institutions, among others to help people build persistence and able to cope up the challenges, he added.

“People who witnessed the war in person will be more sensitive and exposed to various mental traumas. Supporting the victims in every possible way including lifting up their moraleis vital to rehabilitate them from the war time mental illness and other related controversies, he added.

“Reconstructing water supply, roads, health centres, educational and religious institutions as well as other development projects should be the priority agenda of the government. Building competitive generations is possible when the traumas are detected before long, treated well and resolved timely,” he opined.

Following the recent incursion of the terrorist Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) to theAmhara, and Afar states, dozens of peoples have been internally displaced. The remnants of the terroristTPLF and Shene groups have caused thousands of civilians to death, physical and psychological harm and massive displacements. In addition, these terrorist groups damaged more than billions worth properties in areas like the Eastern Amhara and some parts of the Afar states.

The end of the recent violence in the northern part of the country has createdwaves of criminal among women, children, lders, and youths. The violence resulted in horrifying genocide on the people of Amhara and Afar states. The mass graves of Mai Kadra and Galikoma witnessed the devilish acts of the terrorist TPLF members.

According to different local and international media reports, residents of the Amhara and Afar states reported noticeable increase in teenagers’ sufferings, unwanted pregnancies, gender based violence and vulnerability including domestic violence leading to a host of secondary psychosocial problems.

Therefore, the government should work hand in hand with pertinent stakeholders and citizens at large to fix such worsening scenarios in the areas where the aggressions have taken place.

Massive social mobilization, government commitment, and generous supports from investors will help alleviate the psycho-social pressures exerted on the community within a short period. Doing this activates the country’s efforts to rehabilitate the war affected areas, normalize the situation and resume sustainable economic growth.

Accordingly, different strategies that are recommended for reconstruction and revitalization of social capital after conflict include strengthening social networks and community ties, building social organizations, and macro-social policy reform to increase community access to external resources and power. At the same time as repairing the destroyed social capital, it is vital to preserve, foster and promote the natural resilience of communities to recover and help themselves is important to en sure community resilience. Community resilience can be seen as positive, collective adaptability despite high levels of adversity.

It is also important to promote community wellbeing through building strong leadership at the highest political commitment, engaging the entire system of the community in an inclusive process, foster creativity as the central process of healing, maintaining sensitivity to issues of culture, gender and spirituality; and encouraging access to all natural and other resources.

Building on existing resources, collaborating and networking across all systems, relating program needs to goals as well as empowering families and communities, and developing ownership by the community is regarded as the possible mechanisms to recover post-war psychological impacts on the community.

BY TEWODROS KASSA

THE ETHIOPIAN SUNDAY EDITION 13 JANUARY 2022

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