Protection & Prevention
ICMC provided protection to vulnerable people on the move, including children, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and people with disabilities. Prevention activities sought to spark community action to end violence and inequality and foster inclusion and human dignity.
A U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration delegation visited ICMC Jordan in July to learn how refugees are experiencing protection and empowerment through program activities.
ICMC joined The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and U.S. Liaison Office Head Limnyuy Konglim moderated a session on faith-based organizations at the Alliance’s annual meeting in October.
Nearly 6,500 children attended activities in ICMC Child Friendly Spaces in Jordan.
ICMC’s Protection Center in Mafraq, Jordan, included 150 children and youth with disabilities and 220 of their caregivers in its programming.
ICMC Malaysia assisted 2,200 refugees through outreach interventions and case management services and accompanied 500 SGBV survivors.
More than 1,400 refugees attended ICMC Malaysia’s SGBV awareness sessions, while Refugee Protection Corps members trained 43 refugee community focal points and 63 teachers and refugee center coordinators.
ICMC Malaysia supported over 60 at-risk SGBV survivors with cash and material assistance and 56 highly vulnerable survivors and their children with rental and food subsidies.
Specialized counseling services supported 67 adult and 47 child refugees in Malaysia, 300 men and women in Jordan and 380 refugees in Pakistan in dealing with trauma and stress.
ICMC Jordan held life skills classes for more than 100 young women, while 75 vulnerable Rohingya refugees completed ICMC Malaysia’s English literacy courses.
ICMC Jordan sessions on core protection issues reached nearly 3,700 refugee and host community members.
ICMC Pakistan assisted 280 non-Afghan and Afghan households, a total of 430 individuals, through a UNHCR-funded community-based protection project.
A Better Future for All
Hussam, a Syrian refugee boy with impaired speech and mobility, used to avoid any interaction with other people, especially other children.
Children with disabilities like Hussam are often excluded by their communities and kept out of sight at home by concerned parents. Forced displacement or social marginalization can increase this tendency, reinforcing existing barriers to schooling and social contact.
But Hussam’s mother Hasna says she noticed positive changes in her son’s personality after he began participating in ICMC Jordan’s program to empower children and youth through inclusive spaces.
The project aimed to integrate children with disabilities into activities with children of their age in the Child Friendly Space at the Mafraq Protection Center. It also worked with parents to develop better understanding of their children’s needs and ways to support them to become active members of their community.
As Hussam and his peers played and learned together, the children became more accepting and his confidence grew. “He is no longer compelled to hide,” says his mother.
Caring for Children at Risk
Children on the move are at particular risk of violence, exploitation or abuse, especially if they are on their own without parents or caregivers. In 2019 ICMC continued to provide protected spaces for children to play, grow and develop as integral human beings. And a new partnership is allowing ICMC to contribute its expertise to protect the youngest of forcibly displaced people.
In Jordan, 6,500 children were able to play and learn together in safety thanks to ICMC’s Child Friendly Spaces in Irbid and Mafraq. ICMC offered a program tailored to the children’s needs, teaching basic Arabic literacy and numeracy and developing social skills, healthy personal hygiene and self-esteem. Activities also aimed to increase awareness of one’s own body and knowledge of one’s rights and integrity. Recreational play both indoors and outside rounded out the Child Friendly Space curriculum.
ICMC expanded activities at the Child Friendly Space in Mafraq in 2019 to include Syrian refugee and marginalized Jordanian children and youth with disabilities, an especially vulnerable group.
ICMC provided 150 children and youth with a range of physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities the chance to gain confidence, improve their interpersonal skills and interact with their peers through specialized activities at the Child Friendly Space. ICMC worked with their parents and caregivers to develop informal support networks with other families and raise awareness in the wider community of the challenges that their children and other people with disabilities face.
In 2019 ICMC joined The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, an international, intra-agency platform amplifying efforts to protect children on the move from abuse, violence and exploitation. At the Alliance’s annual meeting in October, ICMC U.S. Liaison Office Head Limnyuy Konglim moderated a panel on engaging faith-based organizations in child protection. She highlighted the crucial role faith actors play to provide safe spaces and involve both children and caregivers to keep one of the most vulnerable groups of uprooted people from harm.
Protecting Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
ICMC responded to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) among uprooted people and worked to prevent this kind of violence, which disproportionately affects refugee women and girls. This included identifying persons at risk and providing immediate and longer-term support, as well as raising awareness and advocating for change in communities.
In Jordan ICMC reached nearly 3,700 refugee and host community members, in both rural and urban areas, through awareness raising sessions on core protection issues. Hosted by a local community-based organization, the sessions explored topics such as self-care strategies and managing emotions, improving marital relationships and positive parenting techniques. They also explored ways to build social cohesion in diverse communities and the risks associated with child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.
Theater offered a unique vehicle to highlight the rise of child marriage in Jordan and the particular vulnerability of Syrian refugee girls. ICMC co-produced a play telling the story of a 14-year-old girl forced by her parents to marry an older man, putting a very real and human face on the harmful impact of child marriage on girls’ development.
An ICMC campaign in Jordan during the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence raised awareness of the disempowering effect of economic gender inequality. Activities and discussion fora challenged attitudes and practices that prevent women – both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians – from contributing financially to their families.
In Pakistan ICMC celebrated the 16 Days with activities aimed at mobilizing communities to take action to end violence against women and girls, especially those in refugee camps who are extremely vulnerable. Events included a range of song, traditional dance, poetry and puppetry to address themes such as education and protection.
ICMC specialized counselors in Jordan provided psychological support for over 300 women and men in dealing with anxiety, depression and fear, low self-esteem, physical and emotional abuse, trauma and stress, as well as family relationship issues and bed wetting in children. A campaign on World Mental Health Day worked to build resilience through “Wings of Hope” activities that allowed Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians, both adults and children, to talk about their dreams for the future.
Through courses offered by ICMC Jordan over 100 young women shored up their life skills in areas such as marital and other interpersonal relationships, coping techniques, health and basic computer literacy. After the course many expressed a higher level of confidence and a better understanding of their bodies and personal care, topics not openly discussed in their social circles. The courses helped to reduce the young women’s social isolation, increase their independence and spur new community initiatives.
In Malaysia ICMC assisted nearly 2,200 refugees affected by sexual and gender-based violence through outreach interventions and case management services. This included recording incidents and providing emergency shelter, specialized counseling services and emergency funding assistance.
ICMC maintained a Refugee Protection Corps (RPC) of 18 members, offering life-saving protection for those affected by SGBV and working to change attitudes and behavior in the community. The team of 15 women and 3 men trained over 1,400 fellow refugees from their communities through 2-hour awareness raising sessions throughout the year. The Corps is mobile, reaching out to more isolated members of the refugee community like forcibly displaced people living in urban areas, who are more vulnerable.
ICMC’s case management unit supported more than 500 refugees who experienced gender-based violence. More than 60 survivors at particular risk received emergency cash and material assistance, which enabled them more quickly to report incidents in safety, relocate to a place out of danger and get medical care. ICMC assisted a similar number of extremely vulnerable survivors and their children with cash for rent and food so that they could secure safe accommodation.
In 2019 ICMC further extended its support to the Rohingya Society Malaysia and the Rohingya refugee community to continue operation of a transitional shelter for SGBV survivors and their children. Nearly 70 survivors at lower risk found safe refuge along with their dependents at a community transitional home staffed by refugee volunteers who facilitated personalized access to services and offered emotional support.
“[My family was] happy to see me increase my trust in myself, communicate with others and I now share issues I am facing with them.” – Young woman graduate of ICMC Jordan’s life skills course
Specialized counseling helped nearly 115 refugees – men and women as well as children – to deal with traumatic experiences and stress.
Seventy-five vulnerable Rohingya refugee adults and children attended English literacy courses, while vocational training was offered in beauty therapy and floral design, with the aim of readying refugees to support themselves financially.
Through Training of Trainers sessions RPC members equipped 43 refugee volunteers to act as focal points in their communities to support SGBV protection and prevention. The Corps also trained 63 teachers and coordinators from 17 refugee learning centers in the Children’s Safety Program and provided materials for them to conduct sessions to educate others in the community about protecting children.
ICMC produced two prevention-themed videos to inspire displaced Rohingya communities in Malaysia to promote equality between men and women and to empower women through English language learning.
An ICMC project focusing on SGBV and community-based protection in Pakistan assisted nearly 280 non-Afghan and Afghan households in 2019. Counselling sessions held both at the project office and in the field provided psychological support and advice for more than 380 refugees. Medical and financial assistance complemented this support where needed.
The Face of Hope
One of the faces of internal migration in Bangladesh is young and urban.
Abandoned or orphaned or on the move to escape poverty or natural disaster or family crisis, children are migrating from rural areas to the capital city of Dhaka. There, over 1.5 million of them under the age of 14 live on the streets, struggling to get by and often resorting to dangerous activities like begging or prostitution to survive. Vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking, many are also undocumented, which puts them further at risk.
ICMC national member organization Caritas Bangladesh is working to give these children hope.
Meeting children where they are – on the streets – the organization has opened drop-in centers where the children can shower, rest in safety, get something to eat and drink, participate in recreational activities and access medical care, including voluntary HIV testing and counseling.
Girls, who face increased danger of abuse and exploitation once evening falls, can sleep at a protected night shelter staffed by female caregivers.
An informal education program teaches basic life skills like good hygiene and interpersonal communication. The children also receive psychosocial support. Caritas covers the cost of formal education for children who want to go to school. And children over the age of 14 can learn a trade such as tailoring or mechanics so that they can support themselves in a dignified and safe manner.
The organization is also advocating on behalf of the children, tackling challenges such as police harassment and obtaining birth certificates, a document required by schools and professional training programs. And Caritas helps to reunite children with their families.
Mr. Jyoti Gomes, Caritas Bangladesh regional director, says that what these vulnerable children really need is hope. “We want to show them hope for a better life.”