Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

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Peer Support
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Posts tagged "iraq"
CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

CISR Associate Director Suzanne Fiederlein and Grants Officer Nicole Neitzey attended the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement planning conference for Iraq and Syria programs in Istanbul, Turkey, this week. 

While there, they met up with ERWTC Jordan graduate and P2R Lebanon participant Mohammad Al-Naqib, representing Spirit Of Soccer.

CISR raises peer-support awareness in USCRI panel on Syrian refugee crisis 

On Friday, May 23, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley participated in a concluding panel for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)’s annual National Network Conference. The panel, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., featured presentations from three experts on Syrian refugees: Macauley; Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Senior Advisor for Government Relations and External Affairs Jana Mason; and National Geographic journalist and activist Aziz Abu Sarah (also a director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University). USCRI president Lavinia Limon facilitated the panel, which consisted of presentations and a 20-minute Q&A. Before introducing the panelists, Limon spoke of her visit to a camp in Jordan, stating, “I came away absolutely incensed at the terrible things these people had gone through and incensed at the national response. We’re living through a period where horror is happening … all while we’re at a conference.”

As the initial speaker, Mason provided an in-depth overview of the refugee situation in Syria to date. According to Mason, there are currently 2.8 million registered Syrian refugees, and UNHCR is prepared for 4 million before the end of the year. There is no end in sight to the conflict, and thus no foreseeable drop in refugee flow. In addition to these registered numbers, there are 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), totaling more than 9 million persons of concern. As a result, Syrian refugees and IDPs are UNHCR’s largest population of concern globally. UNHCR relief agencies and partners are forced to do vulnerability assessments when providing services. “You can only imagine how difficult it is making a vulnerability assessment when everybody is vulnerable,” Mason lamented. She also iterated several times that “this is a children’s refugee crisis.” Mason concluded, “we need development assistance now—not waiting until the crisis is over. These [host] countries need support in order to ensure that they do not close their borders to future refugees.”

In follow-up to Mason’s overview of the refugee crisis, Macauley provided an examination of psychological trauma in these refugees and how “refugees enter these camps with traumatic experiences, and then these camps provided additional layers of trauma.” When entering the camps, refugees may have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses not currently being treated. Once there, refugees may not have access to services, or even if they do, “every aspect of socialization has been affected.” From Macauley’s research, he reports that many refugees do not feel safe even after reaching camps. The Syrian conflict has specifically seen an unparalleled amount and level of sexual violence, which Macauley explains that both sides use as a weapon. He then discusses the cultural barriers impeding healing and notes that “in a society where victims of violence are further victimized, women are forced to bury their experiences.” In order to help, Macauley has facilitated trainings on providing peer support in other countries, and CISR hopes to implement this in Iraq.

The last speaker, Abu Sarah, presented the results of an article he wrote for National Geographic: “Five Things I Learned in Syrian Refugees.” Abu Sarah covered five revelations:

  1.  Many refugees are not counted.
  2.  The host countries are in crisis.
  3. Children’s education is neglected.
  4. Many Syrian refugees are still in Syria.
  5. Refugee camps are like a prison.

Abu Sarah expounded upon each point and provided anecdotes from his experiences traveling to multiple camps and conducting interviews. In his presentation, he urged the conference audience to “listen to the stories, because sometimes the numbers can be overwhelming. When it gets that way, really go back and listen to the stories, because everybody has one, and it reminds us that these are more than numbers—they’re people.”

Lastly, the session featured a Q&A panel. Several questions for Macauley focused on the role and balance of psychological support, based on the tumultuous conditions. In response, Macauley emphasized the importance of peer support, which could be carried wherever peer mentors traveled, thus hopefully resulting in a larger impact. 

Sami Noble
James Madison University Class of 2015
Master of Public Administration
Intern at Center for International Stabilization and Recovery

CISR visit to Arbat Refugee Camp, Sulaimaniyeh, Iraqi Kurdistan

A wonderful mine and unexploded ordnance risk-education show for kindergarteners in Sulaimaniyeh, Iraqi Kurdistan, under the direction of Mohammad Al Naqib’s MRE team and hosted by friend Soran Hakim. The presentation was spot on and hospitality second to none.

The giant bunny pointed at a picture of a landmine with a skull-and-crossbones beside it and asked, “Does anyone know what this is?” One child shouted out, “It’s a pot, and Mommy puts those bones in it to make soup!”

CISR’s director, Dr. Ken Rutherford, and trauma rehabilitation specialist, Cameron Macauley, arrived this evening (February 28) in Iraq with a late-night walk about Erbil to shake off jet lag.

They are preparing for a scoping mission centered on unexploded ordnance and landmine-risk education for Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq based on a CISR arts-based program that includes survivors and people with disabilities

Smoke from the controlled detonation of improvised explosive devices rises behind a U.S. Marine Corps mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Afghanistan. (AFP)

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In 2013, we mark ten years of U.S. Government assistance to Iraq for Conventional Weapons Destruction, including Humanitarian Mine Action, and are proud of the programs and partnerships that enable countless Iraqi citizens to live and work in their communities more safely. The United States has invested more than $235 million in Iraq since 2003 toward the clearance and safe disposal of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and excess conventional weapons and munitions. This assistance, directed through several Iraqi and international nongovernmental organizations, has made significant progress toward protecting communities from potential risks, restoring access to land and infrastructure, and developing Iraqi capacity to manage weapons abatement programs independently over the long term.

The Landmine/Unexploded Ordnance Challenge

Iraq faces a significant challenge from landmines and unexploded ordnance as a result of conflicts dating back to the 1940s. In addition, large stocks of abandoned ordnance and unstable, poorly-secured munitions stockpiles also remain a threat to communities across the country. In FY 2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs invested $4.3 million with the Iraq Mine/UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) to conduct a CWD program that included the destruction of 37,939 weapons, ranging from pistols to 120mm mortars.

Explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded artillery shells, mortars, and other munitions still present daily hazards to Iraqi citizens across the country. Information Management and Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) conducted two Landmine Impact Surveys in 2006 and 2011 that estimated 1,513 million square meters (585 square miles) of land in Iraq contain as many as 20 million landmines and millions more pieces of unexploded ordnance.

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cjchivers:

Scene from a Friend’s Morning Walk.  

Italian bounding anti-personnel fragmentation mine in southern Iraq, near the border with Iran, not far, “from the purported Garden of Eden.”

The Valmara 69. Know your weapons. And how they linger. These are remnants from the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-1988.

theclusterproject:

Portrait of Ayat from The Cluster Project.

This short animation is an incredibly moving portrait of a young Iraqi girl and a cluster bomb. Go to The Human Kind for other animations in this series.