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Healing and Human Rights: A Blog by the Center for Victims of Torture

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On September 30, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum authorizing the admission of 70,000 refugees to the United States.

Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture is an insightful one-hour documentary about the experiences of torture survivors and those who provide care to them. It highlights the need for appropriate, sensitive care for all survivors who seek refuge in the United States. Interviews with a number of survivors as well as professionals working at torture rehabilitation centers – including CVT – humanize and demystify the process of healing after extreme violence.Producer/director Ben Achtenberg spoke to us about his film. Ben is the owner and project director of the Refuge Media Project, in Boston, Massachusetts.

In early August, we wrote about a group of U.S. Senators urging President Obama to extend for two years Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians residing legally in the United States. The current eighteen-month DED extension is set to expire on September 30, 2014.On September 26, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum extending DED for qualified people from Liberia for two years, through October 1, 2016. 

This month, psychotherapists from 24 torture survivor rehabilitation organizations in the United States gathered in St. Louis for a two-and-a-half day advanced clinical training on complex trauma in torture survivors. Each year, CVT’s National Capacity Building Project holds an institute for professionals to come together to focus in-depth with their colleagues across the country on a particular aspect of torture survivor rehabilitation.

Judith Twala, MA, is a psychotherapist/trainer with the Center for Victims of Torture in Dadaab, Kenya. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp in the northeast region of Kenya, close to the Somali border. Most refugees in this complex of camps are from Somalia with others from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

Each year, thousands of Eritreans flee to refugee camps in northern Ethiopia to escape forced military inscription, persecution, and torture. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently announced that Ethiopia is now the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa. According to UNHCR, Ethiopia is host to 629,718 refugees. The largest refugee population is South Sudanese (247,000), followed by Somalis (245,000), and Eritreans (99,000). UNHCR says that, over the past seven months, almost 15,000 Eritreans arrived in Ethiopia.As the Eritrean government targets the families of young men who flee the country to avoid forced conscription, more women and children have also fled Eritrea seeking refuge in Ethiopia.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently issued a report on the plight of Syrian refugee women. Woman Alone: The Fight for Survival by Syria's Refugee Women shows that more than 145,000 Syrian refugee families in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan – one in four of all households – are headed solely by women. According to UNHCR, the report uncovers that “Many [women] live under the threat of violence or exploitation, and their children face mounting trauma and distress.”

Fifteen U.S. Senators, including Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to extend for two years Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians residing legally in the United States. The current eighteen-month DED extension is set to expire on September 30, 2014.

Kalo Sokoto is a Counseling Supervisor with CVT's healing initiative in Nairobi, Kenya.

I have an experience which, even after months, I cannot seem to shed from my memory.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently announced a new five-year global strategy, Beyond Detention, to assist countries to move away from the detention of asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless people worldwide. According to UNHCR, the practice of detaining asylum seekers and refugees has become routine in several countries.

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We heal victims of torture through unique services and professional care worldwide.

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We strengthen partners who heal torture survivors and work to prevent torture.

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We advocate for the protection & care of torture survivors and an end to torture.

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