UNITAD: The Wellbeing of Victims and Survivors Comes First

UNITAD: The Wellbeing of Victims and Survivors Comes First

11 September 2022: The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Dae’sh/ISIL (UNITAD) has been committed to implementing a trauma-informed approach and to promoting the wellbeing of psychosocial specialists as the frontliners of working with victims and survivors of ISIL crimes.

Throughout August 2022, UNITAD’s psychologists have been working on multiple fronts to ensure this trauma-informed and victim-centered approaches are widely channeled through working with Iraqi counterparts. The Team provided a training for the Iraqi Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) staff in Baghdad on implementing a trauma-informed approach. The purpose of the training was to enhance key skills and knowledge to provide humane, supportive and practical assistance for vulnerable individuals, in line with international best practices. The same training is planned for the Medical-Legal Directorate (MLD) staff in Baghdad, and a range of Non-Governmental Organizations that operate in different parts of Iraq and have expressed interest in enhancing their approach to working with survivors of ISIL crimes.

This training brings the partnership between UNITAD and the local authorities like MGD and MLD to an advanced arena as it builds on the technical support that the Team has been providing in mass graves excavations, as well as identification of human remains; all of which have been steady since the beginning of the Team’s investigations back in 2019. It also builds on previous trainings that UNITAD had provided to psychosocial specialists and staff from the MGD and MLD in 2021.

UNITAD psychologists’ trainings extended this August also to Iraqi NGOs whose psychosocial experts provide support to victims and survivor communities on a daily basis. In this context, UNITAD Witness Protection and Support Unit conducted a training on “Stockholm Syndrome” to staff of the Commission for Investigation and Gathering Evidence (CIGE) in Dohuk, who work with the Commission’s victims’ unit. The training aimed to build the capacities of staff members engaged in gathering evidence and testimonies from witnesses and survivors with basic understanding of Stockholm Syndrome, its psychological implications and possible impact on the testimonies of witnesses.

Additionally, a training was conducted with Yazda Organization in Duhok, addressing the topic of Vicarious Trauma and Self Care. The training was designed to develop participants’ knowledge and understanding of professional hazards and the importance of implementing safeguarding strategies. It explored the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma and the impact they can have on practitioners as individuals, as well as their work and workplace. Participants had the opportunity to discuss their experiences, exchange best practices, and develop their own personal self-care toolkits to support positive mental health and wellbeing.

Earlier this summer, UNITAD psychologists provided a training to the Yazidi survivor network of Better World Organization, focusing on a wide range of psycho-social notions and skills to empower survivors, enhance their resilience and self-confidence, as well as promote their wellbeing.

This series of trainings comes in the context of the ongoing effort of UNITAD’s Witness Protection and Support Unit (WPSU) and its psychologists in cooperation with national partners to elevate services provided to the victims and survivors of ISIL atrocious crimes, as the magnitude of those crimes affected all communities in Iraq.

UNITAD continues to place the welfare of victims and survivors at the heart of its investigations and will spare no effort to promote this approach among Iraqi institutions and globally as well. The Team regularly shares information about its activities in this regard on its social media channels and on UNITAD official website. You can visit UNITAD’s website for more on the Team’s trauma-informed approach and for resources on psychosocial support.    



For More Information please contact Public Information Officer (Maha Thaher) for the

United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL,

E-mail: UNITAD-PIO@un.org