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News from the Treatment Programs

2012 March 26

The Bad News First: Drastic Cuts
in Funding from the United Nations

I just received an “emergency bulletin” from the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, one of the groups profiled in our forthcoming film, Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture. Like many torture rehabilitation programs around the country – and around the world – TASSC receives a significant part of its support from the UN’s Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture which, in turn, is supported by contributions from member states. The U.S. is its largest donor.
            Although contributions, and therefore the Fund’s grants, have been declining for the past couple of years, this year’s cuts, according to the letter TASSC received, will amount to 43% or more! TASSC itself receive the “unexpected and devastating,” news that it will receive only half the amount it had expected.
            TASSC performs its invaluable work on a very thin, and fraying, shoestring: its total annual budget is only $240,000 of which the UN funding has represented one third. With the loss of half the UN’s expected contribution, the group will inevitably have to cut programs unless individual donors make up the difference.
            Note: I have been looking online for more information about the support of the fund by the United States. I’ve determined that the U.S. contribution during 2011 – which I assume is the period relating to this year’s grant cycle – was 5.7 million U.S. dollars out of a not-quite 8 million dollar total (source). I have not found information for prior years, and would appreciate any help from readers. Please email me if you have this information or know how to find it, and I will add it to an upcoming post.

A Change of Leadership at
The Center for Victims of Torture

As many of you know, Douglas A. Johnson, the highly-respected long-time Executive Director of Minnesota’s Center for Victim of Torture, resigned earlier this year. His plans were announced early in 2011. During Johnson’s 23-year administration of CVT, it has become an international leader in providing compassionate care for survivors of torture both in the United States and throughout the world. In addition to treatment and rehabilitation centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, CVT has a legislative and advocacy office in Washington, DC, and ongoing programs in Africa and the Middle East. Johnson himself will continue to be an active advocate for social justice – beginning with a guest teaching position on human rights in Uruguay.
            I owe a great personal debt to CVT, whose work and publications first made me aware of the situation and needs of immigrant survivors of torture living in our communities. Doug and his Minnesota staff, as well as several CVT clients, welcomed me during an initial research trip, and later during a week-long shoot for the our film Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture (estimated completion, mid-year, 2012.) On the Refuge Media Project website, you can see a brief interview with Doug about the National Campaign to Ban Torture, which called upon then newly-elected President Barack Obama to issue an executive order banning U.S. use of torture and cruel treatment. There’s also a nice profile of Doug Johnson by Gail Rosenblum in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
            CVT’s new Director, Curt Goering, will be coming onboard in May. Goering has been the Chief Operating Officer of Amnesty for 30 years. In its press release announcing Goering’s selection, CVT Board chair Patti Andreini Arno comments that Goering “impressed us as an accomplished and effective senior executive in a large international organization,” suggesting that the organization expects to continue and perhaps expand its international programs.

New Website for the
Office of Refugee Resettlement

The United States Office of Refugee Resettlement has introduced a newly-designed website “designed to share the stories of the people affected by our programs, while also providing stronger tools for our grantees and clear, easy-to-understand information for the public.” The Agency invites comments and suggestions from users of the site. Take a look, and let me know what you think
            One feature of the new site will be links to worthwhile new resources – featured at the moment is a guide from the The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., on Asylee Eligibility for Resettlement Assistance. The guide is available for pdf download.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., mentioned above, says that its purpose is “to enhance and expand delivery of legal services to indigent and low-income immigrants principally through diocesan immigration programs and to meet the immigration needs identified by the Catholic Church in the United States.” CLINIC supports “a rapidly growing network of community-based immigration programs,” serving 600,000 low-income immigrants a year, “without reference to their race, religion, gender, ethnic group, or other distinguishing characteristics.”



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