For decades, trauma has been the norm for the people of Iraq, said Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Amin. People have been subjected to all manner of brutal attacks from chemical to aerial bombardments; imprisonment to torture.
“There is no family in Iraq who has not had one member of their family or one neighbour, or more, or one child who has not had to pass through one of these traumatic events,” he said.
Dr. Amin is the executive director of WCHAN – Trauma, Rehabilitation and Training Centre of Sulaimanyah, Iraq. Each year, the organization provides medical, psychological and social care to over 120 torture survivors coming from all regions of the country, including those where the “Islamic State” is active, and from Syria. Dr. Amin said the counselling is necessary because torture doesn’t just affect the individual, but all the people around them. The counselling provides rehabilitation and also helps preventing further violence.
“If you take a person, torture him or her, and then send him back into the society, it is like you tortured the whole community,” Dr. Amin said. “That is why it is important to help all torture victims. If the reaction is not dealt with properly, the person could become an extremist. They will only want revenge.”
WCHAN has been supported by the UN Fund for the Victims of Torture since 2012. The Fund is managed by the UN Human Rights Office. Dr. Amin said this affiliation is important not just for the continued operation of the office, but also to show that the centre is neutral.
“It reassures beneficiaries that the centre is not affiliated to any parties” he said. “And the centre assures them that they have a safe place.”
You can help Dr Ahmed Mohammed Amin and others like him to assist victims of torture by donating to the Fund: http://donatenow.ohchr.org/torture/.
For more information, visit www.ohchr.org/torturefund
8 January 2015