Community-based psychosocial support for Syrian and Egyptian children in urban areas: A case study from Egypt.
This case study describes Plan International Egypt’s community-based psychosocial programme for over 4,000 Syrian refugee and vulnerable Egyptian children in Alexandria.
Since the start of the crisis, Syrian refugee families in Egypt have faced many vulnerabilities, but their situation continues to worsen as humanitarian aid and cash assistance is decreasing, savings are depleted, and livelihood opportunities remain limited. At the same time, Egyptian families are also faced with economic challenges as nearly 28% of Egyptians now live below the poverty line. Made worse, jobs are proving even more difficult to find following the recent economic reforms set by the Government of Egypt.
Children are encountering their own hardships, as Syrian children, particularly girls, are experiencing corporal punishment, (sexual) harassment and discrimination in their neighbourhoods and in schools. Egyptian children are also facing similar child protection issues, which remain prevalent in Egyptian culture. Though normalised to an extent in Egyptian culture, some of these child protection issues were previously uncommon in Syrian communities. The daily economic and social distress felt by Syrian and Egyptian children living in the poorer suburbs of Egypt poses a significant risk to their mental health and overall well-being.
In March 2015, Plan International Egypt started a new psychosocial programme for over 4,000 Syrian refugee and vulnerable Egyptian children aged between 2 and 18 years old in poor suburbs in Alexandria. The aim of Plan International’s intervention was to prevent and respond to high levels of psychosocial distress of Syrian refugee children and vulnerable Egyptian children.
Key activities included centre-based and mobile recreational activities, life skills sessions and parenting circles to disseminate best parenting practices and provide support to parents. At-risk children and families were referred to child protection and more specialised services when required. The activities were implemented through 4 existing community centres.