A Week in Jenin: Assessing Mental Health Needs Amid the Ruins
In the days after the Israelis ended their siege on 18 - 19 April 2002, a veritable army of visitors descended on Jenin refugee camp--journalists, human rights activists, NGO representatives, international aid workers, parliamentarians, UN personnel, solidarity delegations--for visits of varying length and objectives not always clear to the residents. My own mandate was very specific: As a psychologist who had worked in Palestine for a number of years, I was to help put together a preliminary evaluation of mental health needs and mobilize human resources, mainly through "debriefing" sessions both with residents most directly affected by the events (e.g., the newly homeless and internally displaced) and with local personnel (e.g., medical and paramedical teams, teachers, youth workers). I was part of a team that included representatives of UNICEF and the Jerusalem Coalition for Psychology (Palestinian Counseling Center, Women's Center for Legal and Social Counseling, Spafford) sent to help UNRWA and local NGOs working in the psychosocial field.
Sylvie Mansour, a psychologist, worked in Palestine from 1996 until September 2001 and since has returned almost monthly as a consultant. She is the author of Des enfants et des pierres: enquête en Palestine occupée and lives in Paris. This report was translated by Linda Butler.