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Notes from the Ground

CVT World, July 2024

Published July 8, 2024

Welcome to the July 2024 issue of CVT World, CVT’s periodic compilation of the latest news, stories and public activities from our team.

Humanitarian Crisis at the U.S. Southern Border

“Seeking asylum is not a lifestyle choice. It is an act of desperation,” writes Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO, in this opinion piece in the Star Tribune. He comments on the experiences of asylum seekers coming to the border, noting, “The situation at the southern border is a humanitarian catastrophe. Fixing it will require a total overhaul of an immigration and asylum system that all sides of U.S. politics recognize is hopelessly outdated, underfunded and unfit for use.”

Seeking asylum is not a lifestyle choice. It is an act of desperation.”

Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO

CVT Commemorates UN Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture at Our Locations

In honor of June 26, the UN Int’l Day in Support of Victims of Torture, across CVT’s global locations, we commemorate the day and honor survivors and their families. In this message, Simon Adams writes, “. . . today we extend our respect and recognition to all survivors and their families. . . They know that the future does not belong to the dictators, war criminals and torturers. It belongs to those who are prepared to stand up for dignity, justice and human rights.” Read his message here in Arabic, English, Kurdish, Spanish and Tigrigna.


Amhara: The CVT Ethiopia team in Amhara held two days of activities in commemoration of the Day in Support of Victims of Torture. They began with a panel discussion on 24 June, speaking with partners, UNHCR and refugee representatives. Then on the 26th, they hosted a great day of speakers, drama, poetry and activities with the refugee community in Alem Wach refugee site. See photos here.

Gambella: The CVT Ethiopia team in Gambella filmed videos with a special message of support for survivors, saying, “We stand strong together against torture!” Watch their videos here.


Amman: The team at CVT Jordan asked clients to share the challenges they’ve faced and their story of healing. Watch their testimonies here.

Clinicians’ work with survivors is inspiring and challenging. Dr. Eman Al-Shuaibi, senior psychosocial counselor, and Hadeel Al-Mkhaimer, social worker, with CVT Jordan share what motivates them every day in this video.


Islam Al-Aqeel, resilience programming trainer, was interviewed on Voice of Islam radio to discuss her work supporting survivors of torture. The station recognizes 26 June each year to support survivors and advocate for abolishment of torture.


Léonce Byimana, director of U.S. clinical programs, shared this message about healing, resilience and justice. He especially considers survivors who are also healers, saying, “I also salute a particular group of providers of services to survivors. Providers who are also survivors of torture or war trauma victims. They use their resilience experience as survivors and apply it to provide trauma-informed and experience-informed service to survivors. And this is very special.”

Georgia: A special event honoring the resilience of clients was hosted by the CVT Georgia team in Milam Park in Clarkston, sharing food and music from many regions where clients are from, arts and crafts for the children, games and fun, and spontaneous singing and dancing. The event was held on Saturday so that as many clients as possible could join in the celebration, and more than 40 clients and family members attended! Check out photos here.

Minnesota: Each year for June 26, the clinical team in St. Paul hosts a special event with clients and community to honor the courage and resilience of survivors. This year featured words of strength, messages of hope, a traditional clothing fashion show, singing, music, beautiful gardens and great food. The event was a great success, with more than 70 attendees! Check out photos here.

Virtual Event for 2024: Courageous Voices, Unbreakable Spirits: A Tribute to Survivors of Torture

The development team hosted its second annual Courageous Voices virtual event, honoring the strength of survivors and those who speak up for them. Event highlights this year included a special welcome from Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, UN special rapporteur on torture, a message from Simon Adams and conversation with Diego Piña Lopez, former director of Casa Alitas, as well as stories and voices of survivors and staff from our global programs.

CVT’s 2024 Annual Eclipse Award Presented to Casa Alitas Welcome Center

Casa Alitas is a welcome center in Tucson, Arizona, where hundreds of asylum seekers arrive every day after they’ve crossed the U.S. Southern border and gone through the legal process for asylum. CVT presented the annual Eclipse Award to Casa Alitas in honor of their dedication and extraordinary efforts on behalf of families who are seeking asylum and safety in the United States, as well as their courage and strength in the face of difficult circumstances during challenging days. Simon Adams said, “Casa Alitas is an essential humanitarian lifeline for people who have endured unimaginable hardship and trauma.” Read the press release here.

A Reminder of Georgia’s Deep Immigrant Community

Illustrated hand putting together puzzle pieces

Crystal Munoz, CVT Georgia communications & policy consultant, wrote this article about efforts in the state of Georgia to break down barriers to employment and education that are faced by foreign-born residents. Particularly as asylum seekers with professional backgrounds have been unable to gain recognition for their credentials, the policy work in Georgia is critical. She writes, “This is a talent pool Georgia simply can’t afford to ignore.”

News Commentary: Allegations of Torture in Sde Teiman Detention Center

Simon Adams spoke on Al Jazeera Arabic as part of a panel discussion of recent allegations of abuses by the Israeli military in the Sde Teiman detention center where Palestinians were held. He commented, “We’ve just heard about the terrible conditions, inhuman conditions, that detainees were subjected to at Sde Teiman and other detention facilities. The truth is that Israel is operating an industrial system of detention and torture against Palestinian detainees. But torture is prohibited under international law. There are no exceptions or exclusions that permit this behavior. The point of torture is not to gain intelligence, it is to terrorize and break people.” See a clip featuring a freed detainee here, in Arabic.

We’ve just heard about the terrible conditions, inhuman conditions, that detainees were subjected to at Sde Teiman and other detention facilities. The truth is that Israel is operating an industrial system of detention and torture against Palestinian detainees.”

Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president & CEO

CVT Jordan in Humanitarian Football Tournament

The CVT Jordan team participated in a Humanitarian Football Tournament hosted by the French Embassy in Jordan. Ihab Shaban, project manager with CVT Jordan, sent photos from the tournament and commented, “Participating in this event provided us with a great opportunity for networking and visibility among embassies and UN agencies.” Check out photos here.

Rebuilding Identity – Support and Care for LGBTQ Clients in Minnesota, U.S.

Hands of different complexions all reading up, wearing varied LGBTQ identity pins and wristbands

The clinical team in St. Paul, Minnesota, has launched a new therapy group in support of LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees. The group is called the Rebuilding Identity Therapy Group, and clients are provided with ongoing mental health care and a group format, allowing exploration of identity as well as the opportunity to learn about LGBTQ history and culture within the U.S. while also establishing community. “Groups that help form identities are incredibly important, especially from people coming from regions where queer intelligence has been cut off or the access to explore freedom of expression and freedom of self has been cut off,” said Charissa Cable, CVT psychotherapist. Read the article here.

Working in Coalition with Partners

Working with partners brings strength to CVT’s policy advocacy. In recent weeks, we participated in numerous actions that support survivors of torture. Below are some of these coalition and partner actions.

CVT endorsed the “Chance to Come Home” congressional resolution, which provides support to people threatened with deportation. U.S. Representatives Cleaver, Espaillat and Trone seek to bring attention to the injustices of deportation, writing that “. . . unjustly deported people deserve a meaningful chance to come home to reunite with their loved ones through a centralized unit within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to reviewing requests for return.”

CVT joined refugee advocacy organizations in support of this resolution for World Refugee Day. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who introduced the resolution with Congressman Ted Lieu, wrote, “We must continue to work with our partners to resolve conflicts, respond to natural disasters, hold human rights abusers accountable, and address situations like climate change that contribute to displacement so that refugees and other displaced people may return home and live in peace and prosperity.”

For the 12th anniversary of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, CVT endorsed the American Dream and Promise Act. This bi-partisan legislation provides protections for undocumented young people who are building lives in the United States.

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