Dr. Hana Al-Barqawi, from the Social Work Department at Damascus University, spoke to IFSW Secretary-General, Rory Truell about the social work response following the earthquakes. She said nearly all the department’s students have travelled to the crisis zone to work alongside other professionals applying psychosocial first aid.
Their work has involved locating safe spaces for survivors, organizing the distribution of food, clothing, blankets and medical supplies. The social workers and students, Dr Al-Barqawi explained, are assessing people’s capabilities, and running Trauma Frist Aid groups which enable participants to tell their stories in supported environments that also provide education on the physiological, social and mental symptoms of trauma. In addition, the social workers and students are prioritizing support and care arrangements for children and elderly people.
The Syrian emergency support systems are extremely limited following many years of war and ongoing international sanctions. Consequently, there are fewer resources and less professionals to provide assistance. Getting international aid into Syria has also been hampered because of the sanctions.
IFSW Asia-Pacific Regional President, Machiko Ohara, said, “Syria is in the IFSW Asia-Pacific region, and we send all our colleagues, and the people of Syria, our full solidarity. Within our region, and here in Japan, we have significant experience of working with major earthquakes and our learnt lessons are available to social workers everywhere.”
The IFSW region is calling its members to donate money which will be distributed directly to Syrian social workers. The funds will be used for aid and medical supplies for survivors as well as for transport/accommodation costs for social workers and social work students to access the quake zone.
IFSW President, Joachim Mumba, said, “The Federation will do all it can to provide direct support to social workers in their essential role in the crisis. We also call on our partner organizations to provide financial assistance which can be directed to the people in the neediest areas and ensure the social workers are able to reach them”.
“The role of social work in natural disasters is essential for positive outcomes”, said Rory Truell, “There have been many cases which show that social workers recognize that many people who have been affected by the quake, can also become central in supporting others. This social work approach enlarges the workforce. It gives people a proactive role, which also reduces their trauma symptoms. This is social work working beyond the aid model in helping people to restore, rebuild and have hope for a better future”.
To make donations to Syrian social workers please send funds to the IFSW bank account, marked ‘Donation for Syrian social work’ in the banking transfer details. All donated funds will be directed to Syrian social workers. The IFSW bank account is:
Beneficiary name: IFSW
Account (IBAN) number: CH17 0023 5235 5293 2001 R
SWIFT Code: UBSWCHZH80A
To see the latest update from the Turkish Association of Social Workers, click here.