COVID-19 response


“Torture victims are burdened with physical, social, economic and mental health problems. They may also lack the living conditions that allow them to guard against the spread of the virus. We commend the outstanding efforts undertaken by civil society organizations to continue to provide essential services to torture survivors, including during states of emergency and curfews, even when they face acts of intimidation or obstruction by the authorities.”

26 June 2020, Dr. Vivienne Nathanson,
Chair, Board of Trustees
UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

The COVID-19 pandemic is eroding torture survivors’ access to essential services at the time of greatest need. The pandemic also exacerbates the risk of ill-treatment and torture worldwide. Results of a May 2020 survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on the work of the Fund’s grantees to assist torture survivors revealed: 

  • 33% increase in the number of torture survivors requiring immediate assistance
  • 61% adapted working methods to ensure business continuity to deliver services
  • 47% requested additional emergency funding (amounting to USD 934,500)

In order to meet the evolving needs on the ground, the Fund's response strategy includes introducing greater flexibility to ensure tailor-made responses, while maintaining accountability for project implementation of awarded grants. The Fund will also reinforce its emergency grant procedure, inviting applications from selected organizations caring for torture survivors most vulnerable to the pandemic, including persons deprived of liberty, refugees and asylum-seekers.

Torture Fund Infographic