Religious Persecution, Mental Health, and Music: AMAR Foundation 2022 Windsor Dialogue Conferences

In 2022, the ICLRS cosponsored two conferences as part of The AMAR International Charitable Foundation’s Windsor Dialogue series.

Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, Member of the UK House of Lords, founded AMAR in the early 1990s in response to persecution of Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. As conflict in the Middle East resulted in greater numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), AMAR expanded its charitable efforts to encompass the development of primary health care, mental health care, educational, and other resources in Iraq and elsewhere. Much of AMAR’s work has focused on assisting groups that have suffered religious persecution, particularly the Yazidis of northern Iraq.

The goal, of course, is to help groups that are persecuted on the basis of their religious identities and affiliations make the journey from persecution to inclusion.

—Brett Scharffs, ICLRS director

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Fostering Frameworks that Set People Free

Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern was Bishop of Derby from 2005 to 2018, sitting in the House of Lords. He has been a Trustee of The AMAR International Charitable Foundation since 2016 and is the convenor and chair of AMAR’s Windsor Dialogue. The following is an edited summary of his remarks at the April 2022 Windsor Dialogue Conference.

Introduction

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this conference, in which we are learning about ourselves, our relationships, our communities, and our ability to listen to others and be transformed by them. In working with refugee camps, we see a microcosm of what the human struggle is about, with such themes as health and wellbeing, spirituality, division, and community identity. The purpose of the panels is to examine the macro effects of this struggle and determine what kind of political values and policies we want to encourage, as well as to continue the AMAR Foundation’s example of interconnectivity, mutuality, and connecting at the grassroots level. We should ask the question: what frameworks can we help foster that don’t just let people control difficult situations but really set people free? All the way along, we trust that there is a deeper register in the human heart that music exposes—one that can bless, encourage, and brighten the future of everyone involved in this struggle.

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A Faith‑Sensitive Approach in Humanitarian Response

Alastair Ager holds academic appointments as Director of the Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (where he is Director of the NIHR Research Unit on Health in Situations of Fragility) and as Professor with the Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University.

Ager discussed A Faith‑Sensitive Approach in Humanitarian Response: Guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Programming (2018) at the April 2022 Windsor Dialogue conference. He was a project consultant in the development of the guidance, which provides practical support to humanitarian actors who seek to consider and be sensitive to the faith perspectives and resources of communities with which they work. The guidance is closely aligned with the IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (2007)—a general framework familiar to most global humanitarian actors. Neither of these documents is legally binding on humanitarian actors, but the IASC Guidelines have been extremely influential in coordinating and directing refugee response efforts, and there has been increasing interest in fulfilling the sensitivity to faith implicit in this guidance.

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