World Humanitarian Day: Why Healing Work is Necessary | The Center for Victims of Torture

World Humanitarian Day: Why Healing Work is Necessary

Friday, August 19, 2016

Curt Goering is CVT executive director.

In honor of World Humanitarian Day, CVT gives special recognition to humanitarians and our staff across the world who are dedicated to extending rehabilitative care to help survivors of torture rebuild their lives. In the past 30 years, CVT has been on the frontlines bearing witness to the healing journeys of over 30,000 survivors of torture. Our courageous staff has seen the many challenges as well as the profound levels of resilience in the human spirit.

During the current global refugee crisis of displaced persons and social and political unrest, I share the sentiments of humanitarian organizations and civil society in the UN’s call to the international community: we must be re-inspired and recommitted to the more than 130 million people around the world who are in need of humanitarian assistance. While there are many reasons that CVT’s healing work matters, here are some key reasons that rehabilitative care should be at the core of humanitarian crisis response:

  • Mental health resources and rehabilitation are a necessary part of first response in any humanitarian crisis. Especially in times of conflict where torture can be widespread, the mind, body and soul are at risk of being severely affected. The aftermath of torture has a devastating impact on many survivors’ lives and their connection to their communities. Our staff, who work with survivors every day, understand this and use a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to addressing the needs of survivors of torture.
  • UNHCR Global Trends reported that by the end of 2015, 65.3 million people had been displaced by war and persecution, the highest numbers since UNHCR started keeping these records. These individuals are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. As the numbers of displaced people continue to rise, CVT is also seeing the need for rehabilitative care to be more accessible. CVT staff is on the ground in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as in other global locations with refugee populations where psychosocial support is a vital part of the healing journey.
  • Almost half of the world’s displaced persons are children affected by atrocities that may also include torture. Experiencing trauma at a young age has deeply nuanced and complex effects on children. From ability to attend and function in school to developmental concerns, these effects can impact all areas of their lives as they grow into adulthood. As Paul Orieny, CVT senior clinical advisor for mental health, reminds us in his recent speech in Geneva, effective, full rehabilitative care requires the expertise of physiotherapists and psychotherapists who are equipped to address these needs.
  • Rehabilitative care and mental health resources are often lacking or limited in less accessible areas of the world, often where they are needed most.  At CVT and our partner organizations nationally and internationally, we know that there are limited resources and frequent waitlists at rehabilitation centers for survivors who need direct care.
  • The research tells us why healing work matters. At our Saint Paul Healing Center in Minnesota, our staff reported that in 2015 an estimated 89% of survivors of torture who received care experienced improvements in their overall psychological well-being, including measures for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms. This improvement helps enable them to function better on a day-to-day basis and eventually to rebuild their lives.

Amid the humanitarian crises of today, we have more work to do. I am proud to acknowledge the brave men and women across the world who are working on the healing journey of thousands who have been impacted by war, violence and destruction. We hope you’ll #ShareHumanity with us by joining the movement to end torture here.



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

Read More


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

Read More


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

Read More