The war in Syria has rendered the vast majority of the country’s men, women and children vulnerable and in dire need of protection programs. With over half of Syria’s pre-war population now displaced and in flux, aid programming requires protection elements that address vulnerable individuals’ physical, social and psychosocial needs.
The most vulnerable populations in need of protection are women—who are more likely to undergo sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)—and children, who are more likely to be targeted for physical or sexual abuse, kidnapping, or have their social and psychosocial needs neglected as their young minds attempt to cope with the traumas of war. SRD has responded to protection needs in Syria by integrating protection services into a variety of programs.
While rehabilitating shelters for hundreds of households in Northern Syria, our staff provided protection awareness trainings to recipient families. The trainings involved educating communities about human rights, hygiene and health promotion and the importance of maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. SRD staff emphasized the need for gender equality, shared decision-making among men and women in families, early marriage prevention, family planning decisions and respect toward oneself and others.
We also integrated protection into a program that offers conflict-affected women and girls access to protection awareness, psychosocial services and skills-based training at a community center in Idleb. Qualified specialists carry out awareness sessions and informational forums centered around SGBV with sensitivity and concern for the beneficiary’s well-being. All SGBV cases in need of physical or psychosocial treatment are referred by our outreach teams to trained medical specialists. Attendees also receive printed informational materials on SGBV awareness which are also distributed community-wide through mobile protection outreach teams.
In Idleb, SRD has established comprehensive protection services—including outreach, case management, psychosocial support services and referral pathways—that both incorporate the community and serve the community through the development and implementation of these services. Some of the activities include developing community protection boards that help identify cases of vulnerability, abuse and exploitation, all of which are referred to and assisted in existing facilities. Vulnerable community members who have received empowerment sessions—series of trainings that provide protection knowledge and skills, including training in midwifery, psychological first aid, psychosocial awareness raising and SGBV prevention—have included community women, some of whom have been SGBV survivors in need of psychosocial support.
Protection services have also been integrated into our health network through two mobile clinics and a reproductive health center. The health care facilities provide protection assistance and psychosocial support, among other essential services, to vulnerable displaced persons in Northern Syria. The reproductive health center staff is trained to support and manage care for SGBV survivors in efforts to prevent further exploitation and help provide coping mechanisms and awareness for survivors and the community.