Beyond Conflict and partners: Project Iraq

Phase 1 to scope local needs and draw up training strategy

BC and Al Kawthar formally announce partnership for Iraq

In light of the recent events in Iraq and the region, Beyond Conflict has revised the timetable for our first pilot project in Najaf, Iraq. The UK and US governments advise against travelling to Iraq for now. But we hope the security situation will stabilise in the coming months. In the interim, our work begins on Iraq.

Beyond Conflict is delighted to announce formally its first partnership in the Middle East with the world-renowned Al Khoei Foundation’s orphan charity Al Kawthar. Also, Beyond Conflict is honoured to announce its first project with the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Deputy Director for International Affairs, Professor Mohammed Al Uzri and Annie Shamsie of the Najaf volunteer group of mental health experts, who will lead our training pilot in Iraq.

The BC/Al Kawthar project will train frontline workers in the region on how to identify trauma in civilians and treat it. Iraqi trainees will be trained to assist children and families who have been devastated by decades of war, insurgency and terrorism.

BC and Al Kawthar, with the support of the Al Khoei Foundation, will begin Phase One of our work for Iraq this month. We will hold a London-based conference to scope the needs on the ground for southern Iraq via meetings with leading Iraqi charities with their heads in the UK. We will then take further briefings from charities solely based in Iraq via Skype.

So far, we have 4-5 NGOs committed to take part in Beyond Conflict and Al Kawthar”s first trauma counselling training for frontline workers in southern Iraq. We will begin scoping the needs on the ground with Iraqi NGOs and use that information to draw up a detailed training strategy. Once Iraq is safe for travel again, Beyond Conflict will send its first team of psychiatrists to Najaf to deliver the training with Al Kawthar and put that strategy into effect.

Edna Fernandes, Co-Founder and Trustee of Beyond Conflict, said:

“Beyond Conflict is honoured to announce these key partnerships with Al Kawthar, Professor Al Uzri and Ms Shamsie who represent world class standards in their field. Together we hope to start delivering on boosting mental health provision in Iraq in 2020 as soon as possible. Phase one of implementing our training pilot for Iraq starts now.”

Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei OBE, head of Al-Khoei Foundation, Public Affairs, said:

“I am delighted to announce a partnership between Al-Khoei Foundation’s widows and orphans charity Al Kawthar and Beyond Conflict. In 2020 we will be working together to better deal with cases of trauma in young orphans in Iraq, starting in Najaf. There is a real need for more mental health support for victims of war and terrorism and we hope our partnership with BC will deliver that.”

The training will be led by BC’s chief mental health advisor, Professor Al Uzri and Ms Shamsie. Professor Al Uzri is Deputy Director for International Affairs and former Chair of the Iraq sub-committee at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He has coordinated and worked on major health projects globally and in Iraq, including the Iraq Mental Health Survey with WHO and the Iraqi government. Ms Shamsie is a British-based expert who has worked as a pro bono trauma counselling trainer and volunteer in Iraq for five years. She has built a group of 50 international volunteers.