Providing Solutions to Victims of Conflicts through the Peacebuilding Fund
February 5, 2024
The alarming rate of killings and destruction of property owing to the protracted armed conflict from the activities of terrorist groups, armed bandits, and other organised criminal gangs across the region has been on the increase in recent times. This has led to the death of several people and the internal displacement of many others.
Amidst all these challenges, women and girls continue to be severely affected through gender-based violence. This resulted in trauma, stress, mental disorder, and other forms of psychosocial challenges for women and girls; thereby necessitating the urgent need for peacebuilding interventions in the areas of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).
UNDP with the support of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is currently providing solutions to victims of conflicts and those that were displaced from their homes and communities. The lives of this victims have not remained the same ever since their encounter with the dreaded bandits or terrorist.
Meet Victoria, a resilient 40-year-old mother of five (5) children from Kasan Kogi, in Kaduna State, whose life took a tragic turn when she was kidnapped by bandits in her own community. The ordeal lasted two (2) agonizing months in their den.
On a fateful day, our peaceful community (Kasan) was ruthlessly attacked, leading to my unfortunate kidnapping by bandits. In the chaos, my husband had to flee with our children, leaving behind all our hard-earned properties due to the nature of the bandit attack.
Before this traumatic incident, Victoria and her family thrived with a farm and a home of their own. They were living a peaceful life until the unforeseen calamity struck her family.
I was overwhelmed by fear when the bandits took me to a remote location in Gbebu. They demanded a ransom of 5 million Naira from my husband, an amount we could not afford. Consequently, I spent two (2) harrowing months in their camp, facing devastation and terrifying experiences that left me traumatized.
To secure my release, my husband had to sell all our properties. However, coming back home was not the end of my struggle. I found myself changed, unable to sleep, talking to myself, and unable to connect with my family. I began isolating myself from them, and despite my husband's efforts to help me open up, I struggled to do so.
With the invaluable support of the PBF project, comprehensive capacity-building and learning workshops on trauma healing and Psychological First Aid (PFA) were delivered by Neem Foundation to primary health workers, social workers, and community-based individuals. As a leading crisis response organization, Neem Foundation is committed to safeguarding the well-being of populations in conflict, violence, and fragility contexts.
A friend referred me to the MHPSS program, though initially, I was not in the mood to attend any event or discuss my predicament. It was when I met the compassionate Neem Foundation team that I began shedding tears while sharing my experiences.
Through multiple sessions with the MHPSS team, I found myself gradually opening up, overwhelmed by the impact of my predicament on both me and those around me. The MHPSS team played a crucial role in my recovery. From the first session, professionals engaged with me, unravelling the layers of my trauma.
Expressing my gratitude, I want to thank the UNDP, Neem Foundation, and the generous donor of this intervention. "I am so grateful for this support. God bless you," Victoria joyfully expresses.
A member of the Neem Foundation team, who witnessed Victory at the lowest point of her life, stated, "Victory was affected by what we call post-traumatic stress disorder. It was so severe we had to approach her with the utmost sensitivity. Thankfully, she has recuperated well and is doing great now. Her recovery was superb. She is gradually integrating back well into the community and with her family now."