TRIPOLI, 17 September 2020 - The continued violence in Libya has caused a surge in psychosocial distress among children in the country, many of whom have experienced the sounds of bombs exploding near and around their homes at night, their parents' anxiety, access to school and normal living patterns disrupted, and forcible displacement, which makes it difficult for them to adapt to new environments. In some cases, internally displaced children have been unable to continue their education as schools close to the front lines have been closed due to the conflict, and lately as a preventive measure imposed by the government in its COVID-19 response.
Since 2017, UNICEF and its partners have invested in the creation of Bayti centres - community based centres - to provide much needed child protection and education services to the vulnerable children living in the vicinity of the centres. Multakana Centre for Psychosocial Support (MCPSS) was among the first Bayti centres established in the neighbourhood of Abu-Salim . UNICEF, with the support of the European Union Trust funds (EUTF), invested in restructuring the Multakana centre that was established in 2012. Over 35,000 children have since visited the centre, enjoying inclusive services provided in a safe and child friendly environment.
Since its inception and in partnership with UNICEF, Multakana centre has provided structured psychosocial support for migrant and internally displaced children, as well as remedial support classes to migrants, internally displaced persons and host communities children in six selected schools. Through outreach activities, Multakana has ensured that the most vulnerable children and families are identified, engaged, and referred for specialized treatment when necessary.
Much needed assistance has been channelled through the centre; over 250 teachers and social workers have benefitted from training on psychosocial support and child rights, 5,000 children in detention centres have received psychosocial support, and 900 children in detention centres received winter clothes in 2019 and 2020.
Among the families the specialists have worked with in this area is 11 year old Amina, who lives in a middle-income family in Abu Salim area with her Libyan mother and Malian father. Amina is easy to spot in a group of children through the happiness seen on her face and her desire to participate in programmes and activities that serve psychosocial support within the Bayti centre. She also has a desire to learn computer and English language courses. What was noticeable about Amina when she and her mother visited the centre for a session with the specialists was her fear of the society’s view to her mixed heritage, which seemed to cause her an overwhelming sense of fear and shame. The specialists talked and engaged in dialogue with both Amina and her mother, through individual and family sessions, where they sought to persuade them to adapt and accept their social status within the society.
Ansam is another participant who has shown tremendous recovery since joining the centre. Ansam was born in 2009 and lives with her mother and sisters. The first time she visited the Baity centre, her quietness and unwillingness to engage with the other children was observed immediately. After speaking to her uncle, it became clear to the specialists that she had been subjected to severe shock as a result of the sudden death of her father through a random bombing as he was leaving the house.
This traumatised Ansam a great deal and from then on, she began to retreat from her peers. After visiting the centre, she showed a strong desire to enrol in and study the English language and has shown remarkable progress in writing. As a result of close follow up and extensive support to Ansam, the specialists are pleased with her gradual return to normal life.
In 2020, UNICEF invested in the rehabilitation of the outdoor spaces of the centre to make it safer and more welcoming for the children of Abu Salim municipality.
For further information please contact:
Suad Al Marani
Alla S. Almsri,
Tel: +218 91 00 12 129 Aalmsri@unicef.org
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.
For the latest available data on children visit data.unicef.org.
Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook