Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 11:30 to 11:50 Download Presentation

Working with asylum seekers in Croatia - new challenge in rehabilitation of torture victims

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Ms. Zdenka Pantic ( Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma Zagreb - Croatia ), Ms. Valentina Zeljak Bozovic ( Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma Zagreb - Croatia )


Working with asylum seekers (and the recent flow of refugees travelling through the Balkans) puts new demands on rehabilitation, such as work with people from different cultures, work with the assistance of interpreter, assisting in the documentation of torture for asylum decisions and supporting integration. Regardless of the small number of asylum seekers in Croatia, torture victims are facing insufficient coordination between public sector and it sometimes violates their rights. We provide rehabilitation, educate and supervise professionals from the public and civil sector, as well as network -- in order to influence the public and decision-makers to make integration in Croatia easier.


In our work with other civil society organizations (such as Red Cross) and the Ministry of Interior Affairs, we engaged 15 asylum seekers in a pilot project of rehabilitation and integration in Croatia. A Case Management Model has been applied (a social worker keep the balance between therapeutic and psychosocial tasks). The main aim of this method is to compile services after assessing the needs of the victim of torture. The services are multidisciplinary, very operative (eg language course, job recruitment, acquiring new skills for work). The social worker plans, coordinates, monitors, evaluates and advocates a series of support mechanisms in order to meet the client's needs. Case Management brings the client`s bio psychosocial status in accord with the existing societal systems. On the one hand, the survivor of torture/asylum seeker could receive therapeutic help but at the same time be linked with services which lead to integration in society.


In our group of asylum seekers/torture victims there is a visible presence of acute PTSD symptomatology, psychosomatic problems, anxiety about the future and also, physical wounds are frequent. We improved the mental health of the beneficiaries, paving the way for and facilitating integration processes of the clients into society. The asylum seekers were empowered to understand and deal with their physical and psychological wounds. In conclusion, in order to rehabilitate torture victims it is necessary to develop models according to the specific needs of clients. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop activities that aim to influence public opinion and decision-makers on torture in war (long-term consequences, confrontation with the past), and a comprehensive policy of rehabilitation and integration of asylum seekers. Integration requires effort from both sides: The asylum seekers and the community/society that gives asylum, it is not a one-sided process.

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Our work and project has been funded from EU funds and other international funds and donations, and we cherish utmost professional and ethical standards.

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