UNODC Launches New Tool on Mental Health Considerations for the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees and their Families

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq have involved a high number of foreign nationals, including more than 5,000 foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) from Central Asia. The process of repatriation, initiated in 2018, is expected to continue, as many citizens from Central Asian countries, most of whom are children and women, remain in Syria and Iraq. The issue of FTF returnees and their families is, therefore, particularly critical for the region. As individuals return to their countries of origin, there is a strong need to build sustainable psychosocial support to aid in their reintegration. 

Therefore, UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch and UNODC’s eLearning Global Programme launched a new eLearning course on mental health considerations for the rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF returnees and their families, through an online event on 2 September 2021. The eLearning modules were developed under the framework of the project "Preventing and Responding to Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Central Asia", funded by the Government of Germany. 

The objective of the modules is to raise awareness of the linkages between violent extremism and mental health, analyse the practical aspects of multi-agency approaches and enhance the skills of psychologists, social workers and other frontline practitioners on individual assessments of clinical disorders and cooperation to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF returnees and their families.

Available both in English and Russian, the modules will help policy makers and practitioners in governments and civil society organisations in Central Asia and other regions develop sustainable psychosocial support capacity and ensure the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF returnees.

The launch event served as an opportunity to discuss the tools and deliver a live demonstration of their content, as well as of the access and registration modalities.

Masood Karimipour, Chief of UNODC’s Terrorism Prevention Branch, explained that Central Asian countries have set an example in terms of repatriation of large numbers of individuals from Syria and Iraq. Mr. Karimipour noted that “the experiences of these returnees require, among other factors, examining some mental health considerations to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration into their local communities".

Simon Herchen, Deputy Head of Division of International Cooperation against Terrorism, Drug Trafficking, and Organized Crime of the German Federal Foreign Office stressed the importance of tackling mental health issues as a critical aspect in countering terrorism and violent extremism. Mr. Herchen explained the modules will provide a valuable contribution to the efforts of promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF returnees and their families in Central Asia and in other regions. 

Representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan contributed to the discussion, highlighting their continuous efforts to ensure the repatriation as well as the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of FTF returnees and their families into their local communities.

To access the eLearning course in English, please click on the following link. To access the course in Russian, please click on the following link.