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ISIS Wiped Out: Turkey declares a free land with the help of FSA

Turkey claims it has driven out IS fighters from the border territories with the help of Free Syrian Army

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Turkish tanks stationed near the Syrian border, in Karkamis, Turkey, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have entered Syria's Cobanbey district northeast of Aleppo in a "new phase" of the Euphrates Shield operation. Source: VOA

TURKEY, September 4, 2016: Turkey says it has driven out IS fighters from their last remaining strongholds along a 100-kilometer stretch of the borderland with the help of Turkish-backed Syrian rebels under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.

Turkey’s direct military involvement in the push against IS began late last month when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — responding to a civilian massacre in Turkey’s southeast — sent warplanes, tanks, and artillery to crush terror threats on the border.

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Sunday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said border territory stretching from Azaz northeastward to Jarablus had been cleared.

Syria's northern border with Turkey. Source: VOA
Syria’s northern border with Turkey.
Source: VOA

Those claims were confirmed by monitors from the Britain-based London-based Observatory for Human Rights. An Observatory statement said “IS has lost contact with the outside world after losing the remaining border villages between the Sajur river and the village of al-Rai.”

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Analysts say the rebel advance effectively cuts off key land routes used to supply the extremist movement with foreign recruits, weapons and ammunition.(VOA)

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1 in 3 Somalis Affected By Mental Illness: WHO

Somali Therapist Sees Mental Health as Key to Rebuilding the Country

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Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 Somalis is affected by some sort of mental illness. Pixabay

By Salem Solomon

After nearly three decades of war, many Somalis carry invisible scars from exposure to violence. This is a health and lifestyle news.

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 Somalis is affected by some sort of mental illness, a figure that is higher than other low income, war-affected countries. Despite the need, the country only has five mental health centers and a handful of trained psychiatrists practicing.

One Somali mental health practitioner is trying to change this. Rowda Abdullahi Olad is a psychotherapist and founder of Maandeeq Mental Health Without Borders. After practicing in the United States, she returned to her home country with the intention of offering clinical services. She quickly realized the need was far greater.

Mental Health
Rowda Abdullahi Olad is a psychotherapist and founder of Maandeeq Mental Health Without Borders. VOA

“So many have experienced decades of war, drought, displacement and now are still experiencing terror attacks daily,” she told VOA during an interview in Washington. “So how that affects people is not that we can address only with a clinical approach. So what I came up with when I went back to Somalia is that mental health should be an integral component of state-building and political stability.”

‘A nation that needs healing’

Working with political leaders, aid organizations and civil society groups, Olad holds training events to educate the public about the problem and its treatments.

“Most of my work relates to how I can tell the international community and people who work in the humanitarian sector and development and Somali government to understand this is a nation that needs healing,” she said. “This is a nation that has experienced more than what a human mental capacity can take.”

Olad also believes progress on issues like reconciliation and peace-building cannot occur without including mental health services. Many of the people entrusted with playing roles in healing the country need to be healed themselves, she said.

“What I have seen is people who are in a conflict reconciliation setting or negotiation setting, you can see people are so traumatized, and you can feel their interactions daily,” she said. “You can see the clinical and psychosocial healing needs on the ground.”

Stigma of mental illness

Mental health
A man walks past a dead body and destroyed buildings at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia. VOA

Olad’s organization is working to erase the stigma around health in Somalia. People suffering from mental illness are often shunned by society and even their families. Harmful practices, including using chains to restrain patients, are still used in the country.

“There is a stigma because [people believe] either you are crazy or you’re not crazy. You are insane or you’re not, there’s nothing in between,” she said. “And people don’t see mental health as something that’s curable or sometimes it can go severe that a person experiences schizophrenia or bipolar, that you need to have medication.”

Olad also wants to use the lessons learned from Somalia to help post-conflict countries around the world. She is hoping to pursue a fellowship at the Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation at George Mason University to develop a guidebook on how mental health can be used for peace-building in post-conflict societies.

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“This guide will be used by all the countries that have experienced war,” she said. “So I’m hoping if we get academic institutions supporting this [it can] have an influence on the policy level of the organizations and the government institutions.” (VOA)