UNICEF to council war-traumatised Congo children
A similar UNICEF programme in Rwanda is still counselling children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the 1994 genocide and continuing ethnic clashes.
Spokesman Patrick McCormick said virtually all 450,000 children under the age of 18 in Brazzaville had been exposed to potentially traumatising experiences during Congo's four-month civil war last year.
These experiences included witnessing deaths and violence, suffering rape, injury, displacement, loss of home and possessions, as well as recruitment into militia groups.
"So far, of the 2,000 children seen by UNICEF teams during house-by-house visits since February, about 90 percent displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder," McCormick told a news briefing in Geneva.
"The symptoms included eating disorders, sleeplessness, aggressiveness, emotional withdrawal and incoherence in speech."
The UNICEF centre, staffed by about 40 local psychologists' assistants, can treat about 300 children a day, the agency said.
Staff will provide individual counselling, psychotherapy through use of toys, dolls, drawings, and mime, as well as group discussion sessions. The agency plans to continue screening about 1,500 children a month in Brazzaville.
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