The IRCT has this week distributed emergency grants to member centres whose support to torture survivors has been severely obstructed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Across the world, lockdowns and social distancing measures are preventing torture survivors from accessing rehabilitation centres. Rehabilitation centres have had to close their facilities to comply with government directives, restrict access to their premises or invest heavily in medical and sanitation equipment to create sterile environments.
“We are concerned that torture survivors may be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Lisa Henry, Secretary-General of the IRCT. “Survivors may be isolated from updated information, unable to access online treatment or phone therapy or may struggle to put food on the table if they cannot work in this extraordinary situation.”
To adapt to the current context, IRCT members have had to rethink their service delivery to ensure that they are still able to offer support at this critical time. Several IRCT member centres have launched online therapy platforms or are reaching out to their clients via telephone to ensure that survivors basic needs are met. Others are translating public health information into various languages, purchasing sanitation equipment so that they can attend to their clients or providing survivors with phone credits. In the Philippines, Balay are monitoring the impact of their online and telephone-based therapy sessions and aim to draft a paper with key lessons learned that can be shared with the torture rehabilitation movement.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, IRCT member Vive Zene have teamed up with a local university to train 40 medical and psychological students in how to provide crisis support to people in need of support during the pandemic. In Mexico, IRCT member CCTI are constructing an online platform to train rehabilitation centres across the vast country. In Burundi, IRCT member SAPGL have invested in personal protection equipment and installed office sanitation protocols and facilities so that they can continue to receive torture survivors in their clinic.
“As a community, we have been inspired by the amazing examples of ingenuity and innovation by torture rehabilitation centres across the world,” said Jorge Aroche, President of the IRCT. “Centres are doing everything they can to continue supporting survivors of torture and we are proud to be able to help them make these adjustments.”
The IRCT Rapid Response programme provides grants to IRCT member centres directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rapid Response Grant is made possible by the generous support of the Inge Genefke and Bent Sørensen Anti-Torture Support Foundation (ATSF), established in 2002 by IRCT founder Inge Genefke and her late husband Bent Sørensen.