News 05 Jun 2018
Rehabilitation Works, For Everyone

A new study shows that providing rehabilitation services to traumatised refugees is economically advantageous for host states. The study, carried out by IRCT member centre DIGNITY (the Danish Institute against Torture), compared long-term economic indicators for people who received treatment to those who did not and found that those who received treatment ended up making a net economic contribution within three years.

Rehabilitation Works, For Everyone

Refugees seeking protection in Europe often arrive with complicated health conditions, resulting either from trauma in their countries of origin, the perilous journeys to safety and from the continued state of uncertainty in the countries of arrival. They frequently do not receive appropriate reception conditions and asylum procedures, due to a political climate which seeks to restrict access to those services or as a result of poor implementation of existing legislation.

The poor standards of asylum and support for refugees across the world can make it extremely difficult for most people to lead the lives they aspire to live, especially when combined with the health consequences of torture trauma. Rehabilitation support recognises these challenges and attempts to start a healing process by emphasising the individual’s agency and empowerment.

The results of this study confirm that rehabilitation plays a crucial role in helping victims rebuild their lives after torture and to integrate in their new communities. A significant body of research has in fact shown that victims of torture who receive rehabilitation support as soon as possible are less reliant on healthcare in the long term and are able to support themselves and their families more quickly. 

“States have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide access to rehabilitation. This is an obligation that bears strong connection with the concept of reparation and the contribution to the global fight against torture,” said Asger Kjærum, Director of Advocacy at the IRCT. “Within this context, the results of the study are certainly very positive as it shows that rehabilitation also yields positive economic outcomes for society, the community and the victim herself”.

Researchers at DIGNITY compared family income and cost of later healthcare treatment from 44 patients who completed treatment between 2001 and 2004 with 44 other individuals who were on waiting lists and therefore had not yet received treatment. The study found that the families of those who had received treatment ended up making a net economic contribution when income and lower health costs were calculated, within three years of having completed their treatment. 

The authors of the study hope that the results can be used to better inform migration policies and the broader public debate around refugees.

For more information

To read the full study, please see the link below:

To learn more about the IRCT’s work with victims of torture seeking international protection, please see

“States have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide access to rehabilitation. This is an obligation that bears strong connection with the concept of reparation and the contribution to the global fight against torture. Within this context, the results of the study are certainly very positive as it shows that rehabilitation also yields positive economic outcomes for society, the community and the victim herself”

- Asger Kjærum, Director of Advocacy at the IRCT

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