SUDAN – The Republic of the Sudan and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have jointly organized a four-day programme focused on community-based Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) activities in selected states.

IOM and the Sudanese government cooperatively organized the programme following evidence-based reports that many migrants and refugees arriving in Eastern Sudan have had difficult journeys fraught with protection and gender-based violence (GBV) risks.

Sudan’s current mental health landscape is exacerbated by lack of psychiatric infrastructure that limits access to mental healthcare for foreign migrants, returnees, and internally displaced persons,” the leading intergovernmental organization announced in a regional statement.

According to IOM, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative implemented community-focused MHPSS activities in Gedaref and Khartoum states through the programme in ongoing efforts to reduce the disease burden across the country.

The intergovernmental organization underscored that the four-day programme brought together 60 participants including returnees and their families, migrants, community leaders, and humanitarian activists to discuss the importance of mental health and psychosocial support.

In Khartoum, IOM partnered with Rural Community Development Organization (RCDO) to raise awareness among students from Umbadah block-5 Elementary School,” IOM said.

In addition, students from Gedaref University were informed about how mental health is critical before, during and after the migration journey while receiving mental health education.

“The students participated actively in the session and shared their own thoughts and experiences. Information was also provided about the risks of irregular migration in order to promote safe, regular, orderly migration pathways,” the organization highlighted.

Hassan El Maaroufi, IOM’s Regional Coordinator for Eastern Sudan, and the Blue Nile region, emphasized that the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health has long been established in international human rights law.

He further said that through MHPSS activities, IOM has been improving the mental well-being of a multitude of migrants and refugees while highlighting the importance of psychoeducation to increase self-care.

Additionally, IOM disclosed that to enhance cultural exchange, the seminar featured a cultural show that included various dances from diverse cultures.

A three-day mental health radio campaign that was broadcasted in three local languages specifically Arabic, Tigrinya, and Hausa to reach the diverse communities in Eastern Sudan,” the United Nation agency said.

Through three focus group discussions, 40 participants discussed MHPSS support provided by different government sectors, the challenges, plans and the role of IOM in building the capacity of partners on mental health and other related areas of protection were in focus.

A football match for 200 youth was held in Gedaref to raise awareness on mental health and to encourage them to engage in more physical activities as well as incorporate sports as part of their lifestyles,” the agency stated.

IOM further revealed that medals were awarded to all the participants, adding that recreational and structured activities are powerful tools to promote social inclusion and cohesion, therefore, creating a sense of community and togetherness.

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