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Helping Iraqi torture victims

Federal Minister Müller presents the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany to Salah Ahmad


Development Minister Gerd Müller and Salah Ahmad, president of the Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights, with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

26.02.2015 |

Berlin – This afternoon, on behalf of the Federal President of Germany, Development Minister Gerd Müller presented Salah Ahmad, president of the Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights, with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The organisation founded by Ahmad in 2005 (formerly known as the Kirkuk Centre for trauma therapy), which receives assistance from Germany, helps survivors of torture and violence in Iraq. Each year staff at the Jiyan Foundation treat about 5,000 victims of human rights violations. Staff from the Berlin centre for the treatment of torture survivors (Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer Berlin e.V.), a partner organisation, are in close contact with the Jiyan Foundation and provide professional advice and support.

Minister Müller said, "We are currently experiencing a refugee crisis of historic proportions: more than 56 million people worldwide have been displaced by war, conflicts and violence. The damage to the spirit that these people have suffered is not always evident at first: torture, rape and daily encounters with murder and death leave deep wounds. It is these people that the Jiyan Foundation – and Salah Ahmad personally – are helping: people who have suffered great harm, to body and soul. In Erbil in northern Iraq and in Berlin, I have seen for myself the work that is being done – and I am deeply impressed. The Jiyan Foundation is doing an amazing job – and I am pleased to present this award to its president, as the representative of the foundation.”

The independent organisation was the first centre set up to provide treatment for torture survivors in Iraq. Under the leadership of the psychotherapist Salah Ahmad, a network of treatment centres has been established in the northern Iraqi towns of Kirkuk, Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, Chamchamal and Duhok.

In 2014, the BMZ gave the Jiyan Foundation over one million euros to support the work it is doing. The aim of this funding is to enable the survivors of terrible human rights violations in refugee camps in northern Iraq to have access to trauma counselling and therapy. The BMZ also intends to support the work of the Foundation in the future: Minister Müller announced that greater emphasis is to be put on support for the treatment of traumatised women and girls.

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