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Over 65 million people are displaced worldwide due to conflict and persecution. Half are children.
These children have been exposed to extreme violence and experienced loss of family members and friends together with the disruption of leaving home with few or no possessions. They have had to adapt to new and often poor living conditions within refugee camps or at other displacement locations.
Children affected by conflict are at increased risk of mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and aggression.
Humanitarian agencies are so stretched by providing basic food, shelter and medical care and clean water, addressing families' psychological needs is an enormous challenge. Offering psychological support to all families is way beyond the scope of the very limited mental health services available in many places affected by conflict.
Parents and caregivers are the first line of defence in protecting their children's mental health. Parenting in war under such stressful conditions is unimaginably difficult.
Parents we interviewed in refugee camps on the Syrian-Turkish border reported how hard it is.
"I cannot control anything around me. We are living each second unaware of what's coming next. You asked me what it's like to be a mum now, well this is it, like we are not mums, we are just keeping kids alive by feeding them and making sure they are alive and safe."
They talked about behavioural and emotional changes they had seen in their children.
"They are spitting and hitting and shouting and using bad words."
Parents said that they urgently needed help with parenting to manage these changes, but have no access to it.
We are working on different levels of psychological first aid for families affected by conflict and displacement and different ways of providing information to them.
Parents and caregivers have been overwhelmingly positive about the approaches we have developed so far. A parent in a conflict zone who read a parenting information leaflet we distributed via inserting it in plastic bags with bread commented:
"I have been waiting for something useful like this after not finding anyone to answer my questions"
We want to help as many families as possible cope better and to improve the psychological well-being of children and their caregivers.
All donations will go directly to the costs of our work on providing psychological support for children and their families and to our evaluations of the best ways of providing psychological help for children who have lived through conflict and displacement.
To read more about our work on parenting in conflict visit: