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Last updated: July 19, 2023

CVT has extended rehabilitative care to refugee survivors of torture living in Ethiopia since 2012. We established our first centers in the country caring for Eritrean refugees who were living in the Mai Ayni and Adi Harush camps in the Tigray region. Our work was recognized in the region, and we have expanded to answer the call for help in several additional locations. We have also adapted to changes resulting from armed conflict in Tigray, working to meet the needs of people who have experienced traumatic situations in a number of locations.

CVT has given me life –they showed me I have dignity, that I can still live.”

-Yonas, former CVT Ethiopia client from Eritrea

CVT Ethiopia is widely known and respected for effective and unique care for survivors of deeply traumatic experiences. The team works closely within the communities we serve, in many cases conducting assessments before setting up mental health and psychosocial support (MPHSS) centers. The team conducts psychoeducation sessions within the refugee camps, sharing information about the symptoms of mental health problems and about CVT’s services. In many locations, CVT is the only mental health care provider in the area.

CVT Ethiopia works with adults and children, conducting 10-week counseling sessions that establish stability and then work to process trauma. Clients tell staff that the care is life-changing; many former clients take steps to bring people to CVT so that each of them can get the care that they received.

Addis Ababa

  • CVT Ethiopia handles logistics and administration out of our office in the country capital.


  • Our healing center in Dabat serves refugees living in the Alemwach refugee site.
  • CVT counselors and physiotherapists bring rehabilitative care to Eritrean refugees.

“People told us that they experienced robbery and extortion by smugglers, as well as sexual violence while they made their way to Amhara. We knew we needed to find a way to support these people and reestablish a strong program of care.”

— Firew Kefyalew Mekonnen, country director, CVT Ethiopia
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CVT already has a decade-long history of extending rehabilitative care to Eritrean refugees who were living in the Mai Ayni and Adi Harush camps in the Tigray region. When violence began in Tigray, thousands of the Eritrean refugees, along with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some CVT staff, relocated to the Alemwach camp in order to escape the armed conflict. This was a difficult journey and a difficult time, and many people experienced violence and deeply traumatic experiences as they made the move. Former clients reported experiencing re-traumatization, so the CVT Ethiopia team knew that the need for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) was very high.

The United Nations estimates that 22,000 Eritrean refugees are now living in Alemwach, and the CVT Ethiopia team assessed that the need for interdisciplinary care was high. The team made plans to bring trauma-informed counseling and physiotherapy to the area and began setting up a new center in Dabat. Once CVT staff established the site, they began spreading the word within the refugee community to raise awareness of the symptoms people experience after trauma, and about the care that CVT provides, as well as administering psychological first aid to people who were in crisis.

Starting in mid-January 2023, the team at the new CVT Dabat center began providing intensive mental health counseling and physiotherapy to clients in group sessions. The sessions incorporate education about the symptoms of trauma, and the connection between the body and the mind. Clients work in a group setting to gain coping skills and process their experiences, grief and losses. According to Alemu Lemma, zonal manager, CVT Dabat, “Once we let people know that psychosocial support will help them feel better about themselves and about their lives and futures, people tell us they begin to see hope.” Alemu emphasized that “With tools to help cope with trauma, and with hope, people begin rebuilding their lives.”

“In a recent visit I made to Ethiopia, I was able to see the care that goes into an expansion project like this,” said Dr. Simon Adams, CVT president and CEO. “Being able to establish a new trauma-focused rehabilitative care center in Ethiopia during a time of armed conflict is a remarkable accomplishment. I am proud of the CVT Ethiopia team, and I am grateful that more support is now available to this extremely vulnerable and traumatized Eritrean refugee population. This type of expansion is necessary for the needs of people in the region and demonstrates how mental health care can be integrated into an emergency humanitarian response.”


  • In the western part of the country, we work in the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella.
  • There are more than 80,000 refugees living there who have fled a variety of interethnic and cross-border conflicts.

“When I look at CVT from the beginning it’s like a new born baby. The baby is growing — and when the baby grows it will produce. There are fruits! They will benefit different people.”

— Bol Buony Nuot, associate psychotherapist/trainer in Gambella


  • Began extending rehabilitative care to Eritrean refugees in 2012.
  • We also operate various sites including the Mai Ayni and Adi Harush refugee camps.
  • There are more than 2.6 million IDPs and more than 300,000 others (refugees and asylum seekers).

“CVT gave me a permanent medicine.”

— Kidane, former CVT client