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Kenya: counseling services help refugees cope
April 24, 2014

Kenya: counseling services help refugees cope
Last July, the population of Kakuma refugee camp was about 120,000. Unrest and violence flared in South Sudan last December and caused many people to flee, and some of them have found refuge in Kakuma. The population of the camp is now more than 147,000 people. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
One of the objectives of the program is to improve the psychological well being of refugees in the camp while reducing the level of stress-related health problems they suffer from. Counseling services that seek to increase insight into psychological problems and enhance coping mechanisms are the primary means of achieving this goal.

(Washington, D.C.) April 24, 2014 — Jesuit Refugee Service has accompanied and served refugees in Kakuma refugee camp for 20 years. A grant from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration is enabling JRS to provide social services to residents of the camp in northwestern Kenya.

More than 9,400 refugees at Kakuma are direct beneficiaries of the JRS Social Service Program. Another 1,800 people benefit indirectly.

One of the objectives of the program is to improve the psychological well being of refugees in the camp while reducing the level of stress-related health problems they suffer from. Counseling services that seek to increase insight into psychological problems and enhance coping mechanisms are the primary means of achieving this goal.

To help meet their needs, JRS provides training to camp residents in basic counseling skills. Those who go on to successfully complete the next level of counseling training are hired as community counselors in the counseling department as need arises. In this way refugees are able to help themselves and their fellow camp residents.

During the last two quarters, a training session was specially offered to women who would otherwise not have attended sessions with their male counterparts due to religious and cultural beliefs. The women developed skills that will enable them to respond to issues in their communities within the camp.

Group counseling remains the core of JRS counseling services. The program received many referrals from other agencies at the camp, especially for sexual and gender based violence.

Counseling group members are helped to improve their emotional well being significantly by discovering healthy coping mechanisms, and in turn they use new skills to assist other members in the community with similar situations.

Last July, the population of the camp was about 120,000. Unrest and violence flared in South Sudan last December and caused many people to flee, and some of them have found refuge in Kakuma. The population of the camp is now more than 147,000 people. 

With the current rise in population for new arrivals, the project is grappling with increased demand for the services JRS offers in the camp. JRS facilities have dealt with a significant rise in the number of refugees seeking services.

Many of the new arrivals from South Sudan are suffering from emotional and physical pain due to the effects of the fighting. The provision of social services will require some additional financial support to respond adequately to their needs. 

Individual and group counseling sessions are provided to refugees who suffered from emotional and psychological distress during their journey to safety. Refugees served in JRS facilities have shown significant improvement once they have gone through counseling sessions. 

Jesuit Refugee Service began work in Kakuma refugee camp in 1994 to respond to the thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. Located in northwestern Kenya near the Sudanese border, the camp opened in 1992, and according to UNHCR as of 31 March 2014, hosts more than 147,612 refugees. JRS provides refugees with the opportunity to build new skills for life outside the camp, through a psychosocial counseling and vocational training program, as well as support for primary, secondary and higher education

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communicationsdirector@jesuit.org
202-629-5946