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NEWSLETTER NO.2/2017 MAY 24TH

Male rape, a hidden atrocity in wartime and conflict


In no other area is our collective failure to ensure effective protection for civilians more apparent… than in terms of the masses of women and girls, but also boys and men, whose lives are destroyed each year by sexual violence perpetrated in conflict

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 2007

Dear friends and colleagues

Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war used against women. And men are also becoming subjects of this horrendous human rights violation which, at times, reaches endemic proportions in wartime and conflicts.

HHRI acknowledges that women are more frequent targets of this horrific crime and, at the same time, through this edition, we wish to present the evidence that sexual violence against men is becoming a more frequent occurrence in context of war and conflict. Therefore, it must be addressed as a serious human rights violation, and one with devastating mental health consequences.

Perhaps male rape is one of the most hidden atrocities of war. This may be so because it is denied or kept secret, given that both the perpetrator and the victim enter into a form of “conspiracy of silence”. However, when the stories are unveiled, those who have been victims to these crimes risk losing the support of those around them. Male survivors of sexual violence are often disdained and marginalized by their own communities. In patriarchal societies, a man who has been exposed to this type of violence may be seen as a “women”, and given stereotypical gender-role definitions, no man is allowed to be vulnerable.

Further, there has been a failure, including human rights advocates and states, in acknowledging the problem described. As Lara Stemple –one of the few academics to have looked into the issue– states: “There are well over one hundred uses of the term ‘violence against women’ – defined to include sexual violence – in U.N. resolutions, treaties, general comments, and other documents.” While this statement remains relevant, it must be acknowledged that until recently (2012) the UN, started to address this issue. For instance, the UN Agency for Refugees, UNHCR, developed some guidelines to address the needs of men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (see list of related literature below).

Stemple´s study Male Rape and Human Rights presents cases of male rape used as weapon of war or political aggression in a number of countries, such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia .

The belief that rape cannot happen to men is of course a false one. The increasing number of reported incidences underlines that male rape is a huge problem. The overview over literature on this issue listed above, underscores this serious situation.

The men affected suffer not only deep physical and emotional traumas, but many may become socially ostracized, isolated and often at risk of danger, and rejected by family and friends. Also, there is the chance that their spouses may abandon them because they do not see them as “real men” any more.

We know today that helping services supporting female survivors often do not address male survivors, maybe because they are not sensitized, trained or equipped to deal with their needs, in particular when they chose to give up their “secret” and talk about the violence. Given the seriousness of this situation, it is of priority to break the silence and create the opportunity for raped men to speak up and be protected and supported.

Those of us working with the psychological consequences of human rights abuses should strengthen our commitment and readiness to help male survivors. In this way, we will strengthen our understanding and ability to fight against human rights abuses perpetrated on all victims, men, women and children alike.

On this regard, HHRI will be proactive addressing this important matter by including GBV perpetrated on male as a subject on its database , and will aim to include a module in its manual: Mental health and gender-based violence, Helping Survivors of sexual violence in conflict (GBV Manual), in order to give basic, but crucial, psychosocial support to male survivors of sexual violence in the context of war and conflict.

Further reading on male rape as a secret weapon of war

  • Male victims of sexual violence: war's silent sufferers
    Allan Ngari, Institute for Security Studies (ISS). 2016
    Sexual violence is a tactic of war, used to humiliate, dominate and instill fear. It is also increasingly being used as a tactic of terrorism. While the focus has largely been on women and girls as victims of sexual violence, boys and men are equally at risk. Sexual violence against men and boys takes on a range of heinous acts, including anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration and coercion to rape others. Many of these acts are seen as emasculating, and while many male victims are willing to give accounts of what they witnessed, they are less likely to express what they themselves had experienced in conflict.

  • Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees’ Risks of Gender-Based Violence Men and Boys, Including Male Survivors
    Women´s Refugee Commission (WRC). 2016
    Throughout 2015, WRC conducted a research in urban settings, the first phase of a multi-year project to improve the humanitarian community’s understanding of and response to GBV risks in urban contexts. Quito, Ecuador; Beirut, Lebanon; Kampala, Uganda; and Delhi, India, were chosen because they are host to diverse refugee populations, have different policy environments for refugees, and are at different stages of humanitarian response. The project looked separately at the GBV risks of different urban refugee subpopulations: women; children and adolescents; LGBTI individuals; persons with disabilities; and male survivors of sexual violence.

  • Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
    Christopher Anderson, American Psychological Association. 2015
    Common Types of and Prevalence Estimates for Exposure to Traumatic Stressors. Within the U.S. as many as 1 in 4 males will experience some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime. The number of males who are sexually abused during military service is greater than the number of female service members. As many as 50% of the children who are sex trafficked in the US are males.

  • Male Rape Victims in the Lord’s Resistance Army war and the Conflict in Eastern Congo
    Linda Lanyero Omona, International Institute for Social Studies. December, 2014
    Sexual violence against men in Uganda is an underreported crime. Sexual violence against men is considered a taboo in most cultures. It is an issue not talked about because many consider the rape of men nearly impossible. It is clear that men have also been victims of rape in armed conflicts all over the world. The laws that define rape should be revised to include men and boys as victims of rape.

  • Working with men and boy survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2012
    Refugee men and boys can be subjected to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Survivors have specific health, psychosocial, legal, and safety needs, but often find it hard to discuss their experience and access the support they need. The objectives of this note are to emphasise that programmes on SGBV need to include men and boys, and to provide guidance on how to access survivors, facilitate reporting, provide protection and deliver essential medical, legal and social services.

  • International Human Rights Law and Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Zones
    Tom Hennessey and Felicity Gerry, Halsbury´s Law Exchange.
    Sexual violence occurs in times of peace and of war. It takes place within committed relationships and between strangers, between people of any gender and sexuality, and for reasons that can be complex. However, despite common misconceptions, it is widely accepted amongst academics and charities that rape and other forms of sexual offences are usually about dominance and control rather than sexual gratification; a form of physical violence that has the power to fundamentally undermine the victim’s confidence and self-identity. Because of this, sexual violence is a common feature of war zones. As armies or militias struggle to assert their dominance, civilians within contested areas often find themselves subjected to widespread sexual abuse. The result is fear, humiliation and trauma.

  • Working with men and boys survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement
    UNCHR, 2012
    Refugee men and boys can be subjected to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Survivors have specific health, psychosocial, legal, and safety needs, but often find it hard to discuss their experience and access the support they need. It is important that UNHCR and its partners take steps to address these difficulties. The objectives of this note are to emphasise that programmes on sexual and gender based violence need to include men and boys, and to provide guidance on how to access survivors, facilitate reporting, provide protection and deliver essential medical, legal and social services.

  • In some refugee groups, more than one in three men are said to have suffered sexual violence
    Katie, Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation. May, 2014
    Sexual violence against men is one of the least told aspects of war. Yet men and boys are victims too of abuse that is frequently more effective at destroying lives and tearing communities apart than guns alone. It can take the form of anal and oral rape, genital torture, castration, gang rape, sexual slavery and the forced rape of others. It is so taboo that few survivors have the courage to tell their story. Besides feeling ashamed and afraid of being ostracised, many victims dare not challenge powerful myths about male rape in their cultures, experts say. A common belief is that a man who is raped becomes a woman.

  • Hope in the Shadows: Male Victims of Sexual Assault in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Miya Cain, Harvard Kennedy School. 2014
    As a result of ongoing conflict, poverty and instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congolese men and women have been subjected to various forms of sexual violence by warring rebel militia, government forces, and noncombatants. Most humanitarian aid, money, and international attention supports female victims of sexual violence, but male victims are largely left in the shadows. Simplified narratives of gender violence often define men as “villains” and women as “victims.” This narrative aligns with traditional conceptions of gender roles; however, the oversimplification often leaves male victims overlooked by policy responses designed to address sexual violence.

  • UNHCR issues guidelines on protection of male rape victims
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). October, 2012
    Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against men and boys has generally been mentioned as a footnote in reports. There are no detailed statistics on the number of male victims of SGBV but, the phenomenon is increasingly being recognized as a protection concern in conflict and forced displacement situations. Despite the prevailing taboo, there had been progress over the last decade in reporting of incidents.

  • Access to Justice for Male Victims of Sexual Violence; Focus on Refugees in Uganda
    Meg McMahon, Legal Aid Board.
    Sexual violence against men has garnered increasing publicity in recent years[2] but still remains extremely under-researched and under-reported. This paper will examine the challenges facing male victims of sexual violence. The paper will look at the broad international framework, including definitions of sexual violence and international jurisprudence in the area as well as generally looking at how the term sexual or gender based violence has come to be associated with violence against women.

  • The rape of men: the darkest secret of war
    Will Storr, The Guardian. July 2011
    Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war, an instrument of terror used against women. Yet huge numbers of men are also victims. In this harrowing report, Will Storr travels to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors, and reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world's conflicts. Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility.

  • Male Rape and Human Rights
    Lara Stemple, Program for the Study of Sexuality, Gender, Health and Human Rights, Columbia University. 2009
    For the last few decades, the prevailing approach to sexual violence in international human rights instruments has focused virtually exclusively on the abuse of women and girls. In the meantime, men have been abused and sexually humiliated during situations of armed conflict. Childhood sexual abuse of boys is alarmingly common.

News related to the HHRI GBV- manual

The Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF) and HHRI conducted a training on the use of the Mental health and gender-based violence, Helping Survivors of sexual violence in conflict (GBV Manual) in Bucharest, Romania 11-13 April 2017. The 24 participants to the training, included representatives of Romanian NGOs working in the field of welfare and basic services for vulnerable people. The training aimed to promote a human rights approach in social services, with a focus on victims or persons at risk of violence and abuse (women, children etc.) and to develop capacity of Romanian NGOs for more efficient and specific interventions to answer the needs of vulnerable groups. Participants to the training appreciated both theoretical and practical tools and referred that gained knowledge and tools will be useful for their day-to-day work. Some of them, will reproduce the training to scale up the number of beneficiaries.

The Arabic version and the second edition of the manual can be downloaded from our manual web page. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual. Our sponsors have graciously covered the costs of printing as well as shipping of the manual. In return, we would highly appreciate if you could provide us with feedback on how you used the manual; in training; as part of supervision; or in any other way that facilitated your work/helped the beneficiaries. A few weeks after you have received the manual, we will send you a link to a google questionnaire covering these issues. We hope that you will be able to spend some minutes to give us some feedback on your experience of using the manual and how it was applied in practice.

Also, please note that complementary to the GBV Manual, we have developed a tool box which you also can accessed for free in English, Spanish and Romanian if you wisit our GBV manual web page.

Facebook

Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

Upcoming events


We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Elisabeth Ng Langdal
Executive Director
post@hhri.org
www.hhri.org

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NEWSLETTER NO.1/2017 MARCH 8TH

The strain of Woman Human Rights Defenders


Being a woman and a woman´s human rights activist mean actively regaining
my space and rights in places from which they are trying to exclude me”

Lara Aharonian, Director of Women´s Resource Center HRH Yerevan, Armenia

Dear friends and colleagues

In her third report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, in chapter III, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, addresses the situation of women human rights defenders (WHRD). This includes both female human rights defenders, and any other human rights defenders who work in the defence of women’s rights or on gender issues. As we commemorate the International Women´s Day, we want to highlight the special circumstances that WHRD are living under and are exposed to, and at the same time honour them for their brave and important engagement to eradicate human rights violations of women and girls.

It is essential to ensure that all human rights defenders, women and men, are protected and supported in their work, and that those who are engaged in defending the rights of women are fully recognized as human rights defenders.

In many communities women, may be perceived as an extension of the community itself. When acting as a human right defenders, they can be exposed to different forms of reprisals, including being targeted with gender-based violence (GBV) or experience gender-specific risks. Furthermore, they can be subject to violence because they challenge existing norms and stereotypes within their communities. If a WHRD, because of her human rights work is exposed to GBV, such as rape, the community may also see that as a shame inflicted on the whole community. Therefore, she has to bear with the burden not only of the trauma as a consequence of the rape, but also with the shame she has “brought” on her community.

State authorities are the most common perpetrators of violations against human rights defenders, despite the fact that they have the obligation to undertake the primary responsibility for assuring their protection. In addition, a variety of “non-State/official” actors also commit, or are implicated in violent acts against human rights defenders. Therefore, it is important that this form of violence ends and that perpetrators are held accountable for such acts.

Thus, it is necessary not only to raise awareness of the danger and reprisals that WHRD are exposed to, but also to be conscious of the impact that such aggressions have on their lives and their activism. According to the AWID publication; ” it is necessary to adopt protection mechanisms that address the different needs and realities of WHRDs. Similarly, it is necessary to move away from the concept of protection solely focused on physical aspects, towards a more embracing understanding of protection that also addresses the need to create an enabling environment for WHRDs, in order to carry out their work safely”

Further reading that highlight different aspects of Women Human Rights Defenders

  • Politicizing Self-Care and Wellbeing in Our Activism as Women Human Rights Defenders
    AWID 2015
    Stress, burn out, uncontrollable emotional outbursts, depression, anxiety, migraines and cancer, are some of the effects that human rights defense work has on WHRDs around the world, and the ones that often make them quit their important work. AWID spoke with Jessica Horn, Senior Advisor for the African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS (AIR) about the politics of self-care and well being for women human rights defenders (WHRDs).

  • Women human rights defenders and the struggle for justice in Colombia
    ABColombia, Oidhac, U.S. Office on Colombia 2011
    Colombia continues to suffer one of the worst humanitarian and human rights crises in the world. In this context, those who defend human rights and the rule of law in Colombia have continuously been victims of systematic stigmatization, threats, sexual violence, unfounded criminal proceedings, violent attacks and killings carried out by all armed actors in the conflict. Amongst this group of defenders, women play a crucial role.

  • Protection manual for human rights defenders
    Enrique Eguren, Peace Brigades International, European Office 2005
    The gravity of the risks faced on a daily basis by human rights defenders are such that it is also important to pursue other means to strengthen their protection. In this regard I hope that this Protection Manual will support human rights defenders in developing their own security plans and protection mechanisms. Many human rights defenders are so engaged by their work to protect others that they give insufficient attention to their own security. Although this manual is written for all HRD, men and women alike, chapter 10 is specifically on women.

  • Self-care and self-defense manual for feminist activists
    Marina Bernal, Artemisa, Elige and CREA 2008
    This important manual is a valuable asset for all women engaged in the task of constructing and inhabiting a world in which all of us can fulfill our best potential. An indispensable tool, it invites us to stand our ground while attempting to undo the injustices meted out to us, and nurture the inherent resources that are so easily depleted: our bodies, affection, intelligence, creativity, spirituality…and ourselves.

  • UN mandate created to reduce reprisals against human rights defenders
    International Justice Resource Center
    On October 3, 2016, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in consultation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced a new mandate for the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, to lead UN work on ending intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders.

News related to HHRI GBV- manual

We have recently conducted a HHRI GBV training in Dohuk in cooperation with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), The Norwegian People’s Aid and the local Government of the region in Northern Iraq (DOH). For this training NCA has generously covered the cost of translating the manual to Arabic. The final Arabic version will be available at the end of May.

The second edition of the manual has arrived and can be downloaded from our manual web page. If you would like a hard copy, please send us an e-mail explaining what kind of work you are doing and why would you need the manual. Our sponsors have graciously covered the costs of printing as well as shipping of the manual. In return, we would highly appreciate if you could provide us with feedback on how you used the manual; in training; as part of supervision; or in any other way that facilitated your work/helped the beneficiaries. A few weeks after you have received the manual, we will send you a link to a google questionnaire covering these issues. We hope that you will be able to spend some minutes to give us some feedback on your experience of using the manual and how it was applied in practice.

Facebook

Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI Facebook page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

Upcoming events


We appreciate feedback and comments

The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

To improve our assistance to those working on psychosocial support to persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We highly appreciate your feedback and suggestions. Send us your thoughts on what issues to discuss in this newsletter, as well as relevant publications, your lessons learned and best practices to post on our website. In order for us to be able to disseminate them, they must be validated, published and authorized for dissemination.

We are also interested in disseminating news about events and conferences related to these issues, especially, in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa. If you are planning such events, please do not hesitate to let us know so we can include you in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

Sincerely yours

Health and Human Rights Info
Elisabeth Ng Langdal
Executive Director
post@hhri.org
www.hhri.org

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NEWSLETTER NO.5/2016 DECEMBER 15TH

Dear friends and colleagues
Tools when working with survivors of gender based violence

We all have a tool-box we use when we work with survivors, that we have acquired through our work. You as a helper are the most important tool. It is important for those who work with survivors to know how traumatic reactions may inflict on the survivor. A helper who is knowledgeable about traumatic reactions will be more sensitive to the survivors need to feel humanized and respected, especially after a serious sexual gender based violation. This knowledge of traumatic reactions can also be useful for helpers working with people affected by other types of human rights violations.

As an extraction of the main tools in our manual “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual” we have made a toolbox. Our intention is to provide tools and approaches that can stabilise survivors after they have been exposed to traumatising events, help them to deal with events that trigger traumatic memories, and teach them possible ways to regain control of their lives. The purpose is to give you a small sized, easy to handle sample from the manual that can be easily translated into your own language. If you in relation to your work, want to translate the toolbox, please feel free to do that crediting hhri.org when appropriate. We would be delighted to post it on our GBV-manual website so that others also can make use of it.

During these last months, we have conducted a webinar pilot directed towards helpers in and around Syria related to GBV and the crisis happening right now. The webinar is recorded and if you are interested you can follow the 6 recorded sessions and answer the questions and submit your reflections. The answers will be evaluated and you can obtain a certificate for taking the training.

For your information, we are happy to announce that the manual will be available in Arabic in May 2017. We highly appreciate the work Norwegian Church Aid and Norwegian People´s Aid have put into this. Hopefully, there will also be a Russian version in 2017. We are working with the Ukrainian UNHCR regarding this. If you are interested in any of these versions, please contact us and we will put your name on our list.

We are in a process of reviewing our training manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict” for a second edition. Here is a link to an evaluation questionnaire regarding the use of our training manual. If you have received, or used the manual we would highly appreciate if you could answer the following questions. It will take you less than five minutes to helps us improve the manual to become a more practical tool for workers in the field of gender based violence. Thank you so much in advance.

Further reading that highlight different aspects working with survivors

  • Women’s Access to Justice for Gender-Based Violence: A practitioner’s Guide
    Lisa Gormley, Ian Seiderman, Briony Potts and Alex Conte. International Commission of Justice, 2016.
    Under international human rights law, persons who suffer violations of their human rights have the right to effective remedies and reparation for the harm they have suffered. Gaining access to justice for acts of gender-based violence is important to secure relief at the individual level, but also to promote change at the systemic level in terms of laws and practice. This Practitioners Guide seeks to assist lawyers and other human rights advocates, but ultimately it is designed to benefit the women on whose behalf lawyers and advocates act and who are seeking justice.

  • Handbook for Coordinating Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings
    GBV AoR Global cluster protection 2010
    This coordination handbook represents a key tool for all sectors of the humanitarian community to work together in the prevention of and response to gender-based violence. Drawing from and building upon a growing body of international tools and resources, it provides the most comprehensive guidelines to date on how to establish coordination mechanisms to address gender based violence in emergencies.

  • Working with Gender Based Violence Survivors Reference Training Manual for Frontline Staff
    The first ever pan-Arab training guide on practical ways to engage men and boys in the fight to end violence against women throughout the region, titled ‘Women and Men…Hand in Hand Against Violence,’ was unveiled in Beirut at a high-level event. This training resource was developed for use in Arab countries in order to teach the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to promote gender equality and to prevent violence against women (VAW) through the effective engagement of men. It explores the concepts surrounding VAW, what factors are involved, and the consequences of VAW. In Arabic

  • The Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls
    is an online resource in English, French and Spanish, designed to serve the needs of policymakers, programme implementers and other practitioners dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls. The Centre is an initiative of UN Women, bringing together the valuable contributions of expert organizations and individuals, governments, United Nations sister agencies, and a wide range of relevant actors. Part of the overall effort is encouraging shared ownership of the site and ongoing partnership-building for its continuous development and sustainability.

  • Best practice guidelines for working with adults surviving child abuse
    Blue Knot Foundation has conducted a review of the literature pertinent to working with adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. Empirical studies and clinical guidelines have been considered.

  • Caring for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Emergencies
    IASC 2010
    This workshop is designed to introduce participants to a new resource related to addressing GBV in conflict and other emergency affected contexts. The Caring for Survivors Training Pack is designed to assist all professionals who come into direct contact with survivors to understand key concepts related to GBV and apply basic engagement skills that promote the safety and well-being of survivors.
  • Facebook

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    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    With all of our heart we wish you a joyful 2017 with improved conditions for peace, justice and human rights for all.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    Invitation to participate in a webinar training


    “MENTAL HEALTH AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE”
    Training Manual: Mental Health Management:
    Consequences of Sexual Violence in Conflict


    GBV training August – September 2016
    Introduction to training manual - 90 minutes a week for 6 weeks –
    with a focus on the crisis in Syria


    GBV certificate training - 6 online sessions






    NEWSLETTER NO.4/2016 JUNE 26TH

    Dear friends and colleagues
    Supporting victims of torture and their families – life after torture

    The 26th of June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. One of the themes this year will be on Life after torture. This important topic is raised by the IRCT. A number of institutions and organizations all around the world will mark this day with activities and information with a view to strengthen the combat against torture and in particular, strengthen international attention on rehabilitation and recreating life after torture. In this newsletter we will present some links that touch upon ways of helping families living with torture survivors and ideas as to how they can manage and deal with daily life and all the challenges that a family may encounter. Torture, as is well known, affects the individual as well as the family in many ways.

    There is not much literature on how life in families develops in the after math of torture. There has been some research on family therapy with refugee families (Sveaass & Reichelt, 2001), and some studies based on families where member have disappeared, such as Paz Rojas’ book on “La interminable ausencia. Estudio médico, psicológico y político de la desaparición forzada de personas” (only in Spanish). Other studies and reports have dealt with consequences of severe human rights violations for family life.

    But there are far more publications that may be very relevant in this context, based on experiences of living in families where one member is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many who have survived torture develop different types of post-traumatic reactions, and many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And as referred to above, severe reactions associated with traumatic events will of course affect the entire family.

    We have focused on links that give the survivor tools to handling everyday life, how to raise children, how to keep your relationship/marriage going, how to sleep at night, how to keep your job and aging with torture memories. We hope that it might help survivors gain more knowledge and to come to terms with their experiences, with their haunting memories and build new lives. For more information about torture and for PTSD go to our thematic pages.

    Further reading that highlight different aspects of life after torture

    • Sur, Dictadura y después. Elaboración psicosocial y clínica de los traumas colectivos
      Kordon, D. et al. (2010). Se trata entonces de la asistencia y tratamiento psicológico de víctimas de la represión, de situaciones extremas y de conflictos sociales, tratando de recomponer el equilibrio emocional, psicológico, para volver a encontrarse como persona, tener una mirada en el interior de la propia vida, de la sociedad, la identidad y la pertenencia. Es encontrar los caminos de la memoria, su diversidad y comprensión de lo vivido; no debe ser un retroceso al pasado que profundice el drama existencial y la negación de sí mismos. La memoria debe iluminar el presente para poder construir nuevos caminos de dignidad y recomponer el cuerpo social, profundamente dañado por gobiernos dictatoriales, tanto en la Argentina como en América Latina.

    • A new generation: How refugee trauma affects parenting and child development
      E. van Ee 2013, A thesis covering different aspects of life after torture, as relationship between parents and child and broken relationships.

    • Politically-motivated torture and its survivors - Social, familial, and societal sequelae
      J Quiroga, J. M. Jaranson Torture Journal 2005 2/3 IRCT page 27 and onwards. The social and economic consequences of torture have rarely been systematically studied. This is important for the less industrialized countries as well as for host countries providing asylum to large numbers of tortured refugees.

    • Cross cultural medicine – working with refugee survivors of torture
      B. Chester et N. Holtan 1992 Numerous factors must be taken into account to best provide for the health and well-being of refugee patients in developed countries. One issue that is rarely considered is the awful and not uncommon occurrence of political torture. Large numbers of refugees and other displaced persons are survivors of political torture. To facilitate the "re-making" of a survivor's world, the health care professional must recognize the multifaceted effects of torture and displacement on the individual, family, and community.

    • Disclosure and silencing: A systematic review of the literature on patterns of trauma communication in refugee families
      N.T. Dalgaard et E. Montgomery 2015 This systematic review aimed to explore the effects of different degrees of parental disclosure of traumatic material from the past on the psychological well-being of children in refugee families. A majority of studies emphasize the importance of the timing of disclosure and the manner in which it takes place, rather than the effects of open communication or silencing strategies per se.

    • Lifelong posttraumatic stress disorder: evidence from aging Holocaust survivors
      Y. Barak et H. Szor 2000. The literature provides ample evidence that posttraumatic stress disorder among survivors persists into old age. However, there is still a need to define the differences in frequency, clinical presentation, severity, and comorbid conditions among aging Holocaust survivors. Age at the time of trauma, cumulative lifetime stress, and physical illness are reported to have a positive association with more severe posttraumatic symptomatology.

    • Guidelines for psychiatric care of torture survivors
      David Kinzie, 2011 In describing the best psychiatric practices for the treatment of torture survivors, it is necessary to provide background on the various syndromes the survivors suffer and their corresponding neurobiology. There are also well known clinical aspects of these conditions and unique social and cultural considerations of survivors who usually come from very different cultures than the clinicians treating them.

    • Psychosocial trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and torture
      C. Madariaga 2002. Over the past few years, within the teams that provide medical-psychological care to people suffering from the psychic sequels of torture in our country, there has been a permanent discussion surrounding certain categories that arise from psychiatric nosography - as is the case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSDA) – that have been put forward as descriptive or interpretative models of the whole set of effects produced by this act of violence on psychic functions.

    • Torture and trauma
      About seven out of 10 refugees in Australia have been tortured or gone through some kind of war-related trauma. Some forms of torture (such as beatings, amputation, rape and burns) harm the body and cause lasting scars. Other torture methods are painful, but don’t cause scarring, such as starvation or being forced to stand for long periods of time. Examples of trauma include imprisonment, seeing the rape or murder of a loved one, or a dangerous journey to freedom such as an attack by pirates at sea. Some people who have been tortured develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks and nightmares about the event that are so clear they seem real.

    • From darkness to light
      Fasstt 2011 Australia’s program of Assistance for survivors of torture and trauma.

    • Helping a family member who has PTSD
      US. Department of veteran affairs When someone has PTSD, it can change family life. The person with PTSD may act differently and get angry easily. He or she may not want to do things you used to enjoy together

    • Risk, Resilience and Rights: Therapeutic Approaches to Working with Children, Families and Separated Young People who have Survived Torture
      Jocelyn Avigad and Tina Puryear, Freedom from Torture Governments and regimes who torture people have very clear intentions. They carry out physical and psychological acts of violence against targeted individuals and families in order to break a person and fragment families and communities. And they do this to invoke such extreme fear and shame that victims and their families will remain silent.

    Award to Diana Kordon from EATIP, Argentina

    A health professional that for many years has been doing an incredibly important work in relation to assistance to torture victims, family of the disappeared, train helpers, raise awareness and has constantly been struggling against impunity, is the Argentinian psychiatrist Diana Kordon. She has recently been given the Barbara Chester award. For four decades, Dr Kordon has provided psychological services to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and others affected by atrocities committed by the military dictatorship in her country.

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    NEWSLETTER NO.3/2016 MAY

    Dear friends and colleagues

    We would like to share some of our latest activivties. Between 5-8 April 2016 a team of three specialists of ICAR foundation (Romania) came to Oslo, Norway. The visit, was part of the project "Exploring the Romanian-Norwegian cooperation in the psycho-social area in the context of the migration flow in Europe” funded by the EEA Grants 2009-2014, through the NGO Fund in Romania, Fund for Bilateral Relations.

    ICAR’s team visited several organisations/institutions and collected information about their activities, results, plans in the area of health and human rights.

    Several visits took place at the Department of Psychology (UiO) – University of Oslo, where the Romanian team learned about the UiO area of interest, institutional history, researchers’ community, students and financing mechanisms. The topic of “impunity, justice in transitional societies (e.g. Romania), health consequences of human rights abuses” was identified as a topic of high interest for both the Norwegian and Romanian participants. Both parties are committed to seek funds for a partnership research in this area.

    "Health and Human Rights Info” (HHRI), as a second Norwegian partner within the project, assisted ICAR team to meet other NGOs active in the human rights field. The future collaboration with HHRI is quite concrete and will consist in a series of training sessions that Norwegian experts will deliver to Romanian professionals in the area of sexual and gender based violence (Interesting opening for ICAR foundation to a new area of activity).

    Translation of relevant chapters of the manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict” is also foreseen, especially knowing now that it contains tools that can be easely adapted for training in similar topics, for severely traumatised categories of people.

    Upcoming events

    We would also like to inform you of three different conferences where we will present our manual “Mental health and gender-based violence - Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict”:

  • 5th International Conference on the Survivors of Rape, ICSoR2016
    Deadline for abstract submissions 1st May
    September 29 – October 1 in Stockholm, Sweden

  • The 10th International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR Conference
    “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities”
    3rd- 6th October in Novi Sad in Serbia.

  • IRCT's 10th international scientific symposium: delivering on the promise of the right to rehabilitation
    Scientific Symposium New date:- 5-7 December 2016
    General Assembly 8-9 December
    Mexico City, Mexico

    Hope to see some of you in the near future.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    NEWSLETTER NO.2/2016 MARCH 21ST

    Dear friends and colleagues

    In this newsletter we take the opportunity to point to some very important decisions and initiatives to strengthen the international response to sexual exploitation, violence and abuse against women and inform about upcoming conferences.

    Resolution 2272 - to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers

    United Nations Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 mandates women and gender to be involved in all aspects of peace and security! According to the Peace women “1325 is a historic watershed political framework that recognizes that women – and a gender perspective – are relevant to negotiating peace agreements, planning refugee camps, and peacekeeping operations and reconstructing war-torn societies”. The Peace women have made a good overview over the different UN SC-resolutions in relation to 1325.

    The UN Security Council has so far adopted seven resolutions on “Women, Peace and Security”. These resolutions are: Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000); 1820 (2009); 1888 (2009) ; 1889 (2010); 1960 (2011) ; 2106 (2013); 2122 (2013); and 2242 (2015). These resolutions should be seen under one frame as they all are guiding documents for our work with women in war and conflict as well as in transitional societies and during peacetime.

    In addition to these resolutions, the security council has adopted SCR 2272 (2016); to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers. The resolution stresses that sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers undermines the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, as well as the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, and reaffirming its support for the United Nations zero tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. It further requested that the Secretary-General replace all units of the troop- or police-contributing country from which the perpetrator is from if appropriate steps have not been taken by the country to investigate the allegation, and/or when the perpetrators have not been held accountable, and/or when there has been failure to inform the Secretary-General of the progress of its investigation or actions taken.

    That the fight against impunity, also for military personnel, in fact works is clearly highlighted by the victory in the Sepura Zarco case in Guatemala. The women of Sepur Zarco have testified against their captors in a breakthrough trial;. For the first time, anywhere in history, sexual slavery has been tried as a war crime in a national court in the country where the crime was committed. Survivors of wartime sexual violence in Guatemala have secured a landmark victory in the Sepur Zarco trial: a true victory for international human rights in a domestic court. And we believe this will open doors for similar cases.

    Further reading

    We find it timely to repeat the information about the HHRI Training Manual “Mental health and gender-based violence Helping survivors of sexual violence in conflict – a training manual” -as well as the IASC Guidelines for Gender- based Violence interventions in humanitarian settings Guidelines with focus on practical aspects and approach to GBV.

    Publications that highlight different aspects of combatting military sexual abuse

    The 10th International Society for Health and Human Rights - ISHHR Conference 3rd- 6th October 2017 in Serbia

    The title of the 2017 ISHHR Conference is “Mental health, mass people displacement and ethnic minorities” and it will focus on the displacement of communities as a result of conflict, the phenomenon of mass-traumatisation and the response of the European neighbourhood (particularly Central Europe) to the mass influx from the Middle East and North Africa (particularly as a result of the Syrian crisis). However, we will also welcome contributions from experts and speakers in Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, as mass people displacement and migration is a global challenge.
    Please note that deadline for abstracts are 15th April

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    NEWSLETTER NO.1/2016 FEBRUARY 26TH

    Dear friends and colleagues

    Family reunification - challenges for refugees and asylum seekers

    Flight and exile divide millions of refugee families worldwide. The reality for many refugees is that they have lost track of their families or have had to leave them behind for economic or safety reasons.

    The family however plays an essential role to help persons rebuild their lives and can provide critical support to adapt to new and challenging circumstances. Restoring families can also ease the sense of loss that accompanies many refugees who, in addition to family, have lost their country, network and life as they knew it.

    Even so, family reunification may take time and that the rules for family reunification are strict. Some never get granted their application, while others have to wait for several years. This is straining both on those who came first and they are waiting to come by. Being separated is a serious trauma for many people, but strangely enough it is often not spoken about, and family reunification is often not put in the forefront, neither by therapists or policy makers.

    This quote points clearly to a major point related to this;

    ”Armed conflict and war trauma are seen as the violence of others,
    whereas an examination of prolonged separations highlights Western administrative violence”
    (Rousseau et al, 2001)

    When families get back together there are of course great expectations involved. Fear, uncertainty and waiting have preceded the reunification. But the situation may also involve difficult or ambivalent feelings. Many years apart do something with both parties. Little contact during the waiting may have created distance or feelings of distrust. This is important to talk about, to explore and to deal with, as a way of creating the best possible reunification and hopefully reduce some of the stresses involved. And it is important to convey that other families are experiencing some of the same feelings in the beginning. Raising awareness about the situation in itself can thus be of great help and assistance in this process from the host society, and may be an important preventive initiative.

    It might also be helpful to know more of the rights related to family reunification and what to expect. We have collected some useful publications related to family reunification.

    Further reading

    Articles, publications and websites that highlight different aspects of Family Reunification

    • Family reunion for refugees in the UK Understanding support needs
      The study highlighted evidence of need for family reunion support. Almost 5000 visas for dependents of individuals with refugee status or humanitarian protection were issued in the UK in 2010. The British Red Cross, the main provider of family reunion travel assistance in the UK, supported just over 100 family members through this programme (White and Hendry, British Red Cross 2011).

    • UNHCR guidelines on reunification of refugee families
      The note restates the position of the Office concerning the types of family reunification promoted by UNHCR, the categories of persons eligible for assistance, and the action to be taken by UNHCR Headquarters, by the Field Offices, and by refugees themselves to achieve the reunification of refugee families under various circumstances (UNHCR 1983).

    • Disrupted flight the realities of separated refugee families in the EU
      Available research shows that family separation tends to be associated with poor mental and physical health, which then has an impact on peoples’ ability to learn a language, look for a job, re-train, or simply interact with others (including with officials and administrations).3 Long separation can also damage the family structure and cause conflict when the family is reunited. By way of contrast, various studies document the positive effect of family reunification, particularly on people’s general well-being, but also on their employment prospects and on the educational achievement of their children (Red Cross 2014).

    • Background note for the agenda item: family reunification in the context of resettlement and integration protecting the family: challenges in implementing policy in the resettlement context
      The five guiding principles that sustain UNHCR efforts to protect family unity, and to promote and facilitate family reunification in the resettlement process (UNHCR 2001).

    • Engaging refugee families in therapy: exploring the benefits of including referring professionals in first family interviews
      The possible benefits of including referring professionals in the first family interviews are being explored as a way to engage refugee families in therapy. Families in exile confront a number of problems related both to premigration traumatic exposures and to present adaptation processes. Refugee clients and the referring professionals in the larger system frequently see the problems and their solutions quite differently. This situation may often result in unclear working alliances in a context of therapy (Sveaass and Reichelt 2001 ).

    • The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
      The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) is a pan-European alliance of 90 NGOs protecting and advancing the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons.

    • Refugee Family Reunification UNHCR’s Response to the European Commission Green Paper on the Right to Family Reunification of Third Country Nationals Living in the European Union (Directive 2003/86/EC)
      UNHCR has been entrusted by the United Nations General Assembly with the mandate to provide international protection to refugees and, together with Governments, to seek solutions to refugee problems. Article 35 of the 1951 Refugee Convention5 and Article II of the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees6 oblige States Parties to cooperate with UNHCR in the exercise of its mandate, in particular facilitating UNHCR’s duty of supervising the application of the provisions of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.

    • Family therapy sessions with refugee families; a qualitative study
      Due to the armed conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s many families escaped to other countries. The main goal of this study was to explore in more detail the complexity of various family members’ experiences and perceptions from their life before the war, during the war and the escape, and during their new life in Sweden. There is insufficient knowledge of refugee families’ perceptions, experiences and needs, and especially of the complexity of family perspectives and family systems. This study focused on three families from Bosnia and Herzegovina who came to Sweden and were granted permanent residence permits. The families had at least one child between 5 and 12 years old (Jarkman Björn, Gustafsson, Sydsjö and Berterö 2013)

    • Refugee children and families psychological health, brief family intervention and ethical aspects
      To investigate parent-child agreement on the psychological symptoms of the refugee children; to explore refugee children’s well-being before and after three sessions of family therapy; to explore, in more detail, the complexity of various family members’ experiences and perceptions of their life before the war, during the war and their escape, and in their new life in Sweden; and also to highlight ethical issues and conduct ethical analyses using basic ethical principles that take into account the varying perspectives of the actors involved with regard to the psychological treatment of refugee children and families (Jarkman Björn, 2013).

    • The European Resettlement Network
      The European Resettlement Network is an inclusive network that supports the development of resettlement in Europe by connecting a variety of actors involved in refugee resettlement. Network members have a shared commitment to refugee resettlement and refugee protection, to ensuring the provision of durable solutions for refugees, and to ensuring refugees resettled to Europe receive integration support that provides them with the tools to become fully participating citizens.

    • Family reunification in exile – Preventive measures through family conversations (Only in Norwegian)
      Many refugee families have experience that they have been separated in connection with war, disaster or escape. Family members have separately or together been subjected to stressors and traumatic events. Reunification with the family after years of separation may involve major challenges. This publication is developed a method that could be of assistance to workers meeting these families (Gravråkmo et al 2016).

    Facebook

    Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page we are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

    Upcoming events


    We appreciate feedback and comments

    The Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is an electronic newsletter launched by HHRI with an aim to give insight to a certain subject in the cross section of our work; human rights violations in war & conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to form the newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have views to share or ideas/suggestions for forthcoming issues. As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI newsletter and for the web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.100 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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