The year 2014 was characterized by an unusually high number of serious crises and disasters worldwide. Violent conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, the Central African Republic, Gaza, Libya and South Sudan have caused widespread human suffering and are contributing to the highest number of refugees globally since the Second World War. Responding to the needs in conflict affected countries and in the countries receiving refugees includes the provision of psychosocial support to beneficiaries, staff and volunteers. While not all the affected National Societies have had strong psychosocial support capacity to begin with, all have made substantial efforts to boost existing capacities or build new capacity.
The complexity and dangers of the crises mentioned above have put staff and volunteers under consider-able stress. Fortunately, this is recognized by more National Societies than ever, and there has been a high interest from National Societies in building systems to care for and support volunteers better. In the wake of many armed conflicts it is common to see an increase in instances of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). SGBV is often associated with religious and cultural taboos making it very diffi-cult to discuss, let alone address, openly. A scoping study showed that many Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers meet survivors of SGBV and often find it difficult to know how best to support.
In March the Ebola virus disease was first diagnosed in Guinea in West Africa, and the disease quickly spread to the neighbouring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia causing the largest outbreak of Ebola
in history. Very early in the operation, psychosocial support was identified as one of the main priori-ties. Fear, stigma and rampant rumours were seri-ous barriers to persuading patients to seek medical support, to get populations to take appropriate and reasonable measures to limit contamination and to practice safe burials. Being infected not only means a high risk of dying; for many patients it also means high risk of infecting loved ones, loss of livelihood, loss of possessions due to disinfection procedures and being ostracized by the community.
Read the PS Centre’s annual report for 2014 to learn more about how the National Societies have met the challenges outlined above and how the the PS Centre strives to support the efforts of the National Societies: 2014 PS Centre Annual Report