Psychosocial Support for Integrated Recovery in Karantina

The Beirut Explosion on August 4, 2020 left behind an explosion of feelings as its impact extended deeper and beyond the direct destruction of surrounding areas but also affecting the psychological conditions of different social groups, especially the most vulnerable.

In partnership with Armadilla, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting the affected communities in Karantina by helping them heal from the trauma and psychological wounds caused by the devastating blast and rebuild a strong social structure of active survivors.

This initiative is encouraging Karantina residents to speak about what they saw, heard, felt and did during and after the explosion by conducting discussions and support sessions to help them recover and see their way forward.

“We were living in horror and fear. I suffered from a nervous breakdown and I was finding difficulties breathing properly,” said Aida Al Mahoumd, a 65-year-old Karantina resident. “During the helpful sessions, I was able to express myself and I feel much better now.”

The Beirut port explosion  reopened wounds of the civil war and is described by local residents as  “incomparable” to anything they’ve ever experienced before. Additionally, it has caused feelings of uncertainty amongst them as they continue to experience recurring thoughts of the incident; “every time I lay my head on the pillow to sleep, I hear the sound of the explosion again,” Aida added. 

The psychosocial support focus group is embracing UNDP’s people-centric approach by helping those affected by the blast identify the feelings they have experienced, understand their reactions, and regain, gradually with each session, a more positive and optimistic outlook.

Khalil Ibrahim Houssam, another survivor of the blast, expressed: “The soul is the most precious thing in life, much more precious than money. I was feeling down and hopeless and if it wasn’t for the support I received, I could have done something bad to myself. With UNDP and Armadilla help, I am improving and that is the biggest blessing.” 

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