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Psychosocial assistance to torture victims in B&H (RS)

Work with the victims of torture in Bosnia was initiated in December, 2002. The IAN Centre for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims , together with two partner organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina (The Association for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims - Centre for Torture Victims, Sarajevo, and the Women's association Medica Zenica) provided initial psychosocial rehabilitation of torture victims in selected municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina ( Bijeljina, Brèko, Bratunac, Zvornik, Modrica, Doboj Sipovo, and Mrkonjic Grad) and conducted pre-screening, needs assessment and assessment of currently available services for torture victims.

During the initial rehabilitation and assessment phase we have found that the majority of clients experience symptoms of PTSD, and in most cases have not been adequately treated for it in their communities. The torture survivors in the target municipalities are mostly men, elderly, with relatively low education and, among those still employed, mainly performing industry related jobs and various crafts.

The average income per family is rather low. Most of these people are refugees, living in rented premises or in very inadequate housing. Furthermore, most of these people have become drastically poor compared to the pre-war period.

Of those who had been detained or kept in prison camps, 93% say they had been tortured. Half of them sustained grievous bodily harm during torture, and most of the survivors state that the experience of torture has had a devastating impact on their overall mental and physical health.

Based on the findings in the assessment phase and the great need of torture victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina for assistance, we decided to continue with direct assistance activities - including psychological, psychiatric and medical treatment. In September 2005, we started the project entitled Psycho-social rehabilitation program for torture victims in target regions in Bosnia-Herzegovina through CTV, IAN and MEDICA mobile teams . The project was also implemented by three organizations from the previous phase.

The IAN CRTV continued with activities in the target region of Bijeljina and Bratunac and spread activities in the region of Srebrenica, Visegrad, Foca and Kalinovik.

Clients, including torture victims and members of their families, are provided with the following kinds of assistance:

  • counselling and psychotherapy (in the form of individual and group psychotherapy) provided by a psychologist and a psychiatrist
  • psychological and psychiatrics diagnostics
  • general medical examinations and treatment
  • internal specialist's examinations (EKG, blood tension control) and diagnostics
  • pharmacotherapy
  • psycho-pharmacotherapy.

Clients receive reports about their somatic and psychological health condition, as well as recommendations about future treatment.

Home visits are also organized for the clients who are not able to come by themselves to the examinations. For the most vulnerable cases with seriously endangered health conditions, we organize additional services like continuation of the therapy in an adequate institution, specialist medical examinations, provision with special medicaments, etc.

Thanks to the commitment of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture , which has been supporting our efforts to assist the victims of torture, this project has been running successfully and we believe that it will continue in future.



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