“I couldn’t recognize myself. I was a shadow. It had been a long time before I could see a glimmer of hope. However, I often feel that even this hope is lost and that darkness surrounds me. But I keep fighting to live the life I know I deserve.”
25-year-old A. arrived in Greece in June of 2017 and his story resembles the stories of hundreds of other refugees who abandoned their countries because they were victims of torture. It is estimated that approximately 35% of the refugee population are men and women that survived torture.
After a long and dangerous trip, 25-year-old A. needed to remain in precarious conditions on the Greek islands until he moved to mainland Greece, in a refugee accommodation center on the borders of the Region of Central Macedonia.
When he got in touch with the Victims Of Torture Support Program of ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth, he was suffering from severe physical and psychological pain, resulting from the torture he was subjected to in his country of origin.
He was abducted by members of a terrorist organization, who kept him incarcerated under inhumane conditions, torturing him daily for more than a year.
According to the psychologist and psychiatrist of ARSIS who are monitoring him, A. has remarkable mental resilience and despite the difficulties he has encountered to date, he utilizes every available source of support to heal his wounds and realize his dreams for the future.
Tomorrow, the 26th of June has been established as the International Day In Support Of Victims Of Torture. On June 26th, 1987, the International Convention Against Torture was signed and on the same date in 1948 the UN Charter was drawn up.
The Committee Against Torture, which is subsidized by the European Union and the Government of Denmark, is headquartered in Copenhagen.
The conclusions of studies so far lead to the sad finding that torture is a crime that is still a sad reality 33 years after the signing of the International Convention Against Torture.
The Victims of Torture Support Program of ARSIS has been operating from November of 2018 with funding from the NGO German Doctors, while, from September of 2019, it has been implemented through the PIER III Protection, Integration and Education For Refugees In Greece program with support from The Coca Cola Foundation and with the collaboration of Caritas Austria.
The goal of the program is the provision of psychosocial support and mental health services, as well as legal support services, to adult asylum seekers and refugees that have survived torture.
To date, 160 people have joined the program. The key countries of origin are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, Cameroon, Sudan, and Ghana. The biggest percentages of the beneficiaries are men, aged 18-38 years.
The reason that led these people to abandon their countries of origin and seek protection in Greece is related to the fact that they were and are in danger for reasons related to the wars or civil conflicts prevailing in their countries but also related to their political action, their religious beliefs, their ethnic origin, as well as their gender and sexual orientation.
For more information:
Katerina Hondrou, MSc Psychologist,
Coordinator of the Victims Of Torture Support Program of ARSIS, tel.: 6976780930.
The PIER Program is implemented with the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation.