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Two-thirds of torture victims supported by UN Fund are migrants and refugees

GENEVA (26 April 2017) – Two-thirds of the nearly 50,000 victims of torture supported every year by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture are migrants and refugees, according to the Fund’s Chairperson, Gaby Oré Aguilar.

"This shocking figure highlights the need for specialised and rapid responses to protect and promote the human rights of people on the move,” said Oré Aguilar. Her comments came ahead of a public event, entitled “A Victim’s Journey: Redress and Rehabilitation for Torture Victims in Migration”, organised by the Fund on 28 April 2017.

The event, set to be opened by Kate Gilmore, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will take place on 28 April from 11:00 to 13:00 in Salle VIII at Palais des Nations, Geneva. During the event,  experts -  who include a torture survivor, medical doctors, psychiatrists and lawyers working for organisations supported by the Fund - will discuss the link between torture and migration, as well as the most effective ways to respond to the needs of torture victims in the context of migration. They will also showcase concrete projects, from different contexts and regions, focused on helping victims of torture in migration to receive medical, legal, and psycho-social support.

In advance of the meeting, civil society representatives supported by the Fund stressed the extreme vulnerability of torture victims in migration and called for immediate action.

“People impacted by torture frequently experience incredible hardship through their migration journey. Upon arriving in a country with a reputation for respecting human rights and providing asylum, they often find that the physical obstacles to safety have been replaced by legal and political ones,” said Bernice Carrick, lawyer at The Humanitarian Group, in Australia.
“Factors like constant threat to life, harassment by law enforcers, illegal detention, xenophobia and limited understanding of refugee issues exacerbate the effects of torture,” said Yusrah Nagujja, Programme Manager at the Refugee Law Project in Uganda.

Among the participants are also: Mr. Alberto Barbieri, Director at Medici per i Diretti Humani (Italy); Ms. Lucy Kiama, Coutry Director at HIAS Refugee Trust (Kenya); Ms. Eva Abu Halaweh, Mizan Law Group for Human Rights (Jordan); Ms. Ana Elena Barrios, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova (Mexico); Ms. Eva Barnewitz, Vivo International (Germany); Mr. Kolbassia Haoussou, Survivors Speak Out – Freedom from Torture (United Kingdom); Ms. Suzanne Jabbour, Restart Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture (Lebanon).

These and other experts from 17 countries will be in Geneva and available for interviews from 26 April 2017.


For more information and media requests, please contact Nicoleta Panta, (+41 22 917 93 10 / npanta@ohchr.org)
Media accreditation – click here

For more information on the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (before and after the event) please contact: Marina Narvaez Guarnieri (+41 22 917 96 15 / mnarvaez@ohchr.org)


Since 1981, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture has directed over US$168 million to more than 620 organisations globally in order to deliver essential services to torture victims. As the oldest and largest human rights fund with a distinct victim-focused mandate, it awards projects providing medical, psychological, humanitarian social and legal rehabilitation services to around 50,000 torture victims and their family members each year, in over 80 countries around the world.

For more information on the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture and the event go here.

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