As the humanitarian situation inside Syria continues to worsen, mental health needs among refugees who have fled the country are steadily increasing. Ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) wants to highlight the plight of Syrians in northern Iraq’s Domeez refugee camp, where MSF’s counselors and psychologists are seeing growing numbers of patients presenting with far more acute symptoms than a year ago.
Since the conflict in Syria began, more than two million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, with thousands more fleeing across the borders every day. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in northern Iraq to respond to this situation since May 2012.
“We came from Tel Brak in northeastern Syria,” says Zeina, who has just crossed the Iraqi border with her husband and four children. “Seven months [ago] we left our house as the area was becoming a war zone. The entire village left.”
“I’m deeply sad inside, but I need to appear strong in front of my family,” says a man called Mahmood while sitting in the narrow room he now shares with his wife and six-year-old son in the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in Saida, Lebanon. Until almost two months ago, he’d been living in another camp for Palestinians, this one in Damascus, but the conflict in Syria had made it impossible to stay.