Home News World Refugee Day and International Day in support of victims of torture

World Refugee Day and International Day in support of victims of torture

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In collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), IAN (International Aid Network) commemorated World Refugee Day and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 23, 2023. The event, titled “My Journey, My Story,” took place at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade.

The event was opened by Sufijan Adjali, Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Serbia, Ana Janković Jovanović, Acting Head of the United Nations Human Rights Team, and Biljana Petrović, Executive Director of IAN.

Addressing the attendees, Mr. Adjali emphasized the weight of the decision to leave one’s home and seek refuge in another country. He offered support and empathy to the refugees who were compelled to undertake such a journey. “The protection you enjoy in your own country can disappear both within and outside it. When you decide to seek the protection you have lost in your own country in another place, you are choosing a complete life change,” Adjali added. He highlighted the difference between migrants and refugees, explaining that migrants can return to their homes, whereas refugees do not have that right. The main reason is that refugees fear persecution in their homeland based on their religion, race, nationality, or any other political affiliation.

Ana Janković Jovanović, Acting Head of the United Nations Human Rights Team in Serbia, stated that this is an excellent moment to reflect on all human rights, regardless of personal characteristics. She emphasized that the United Nations Human Rights Fund has been supporting the work of the International Aid Network for many years, aiming to raise awareness about the issue of torture against refugees. “The absolute prohibition of torture is one of the fundamental principles and represents crucial national support for refugees coming to Serbia. Seventy-five years ago, states agreed on the basic rights that every person should have access to,” concluded Ana Janković Jovanović.

As part of the event, a film titled “Reminiscence” was screened, featuring testimonies of torture victims about their experiences. Following the screening, Momir Turudić, a journalist and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the weekly magazine “Vreme” and Bojana Trivunčić, a psychologist and psychotherapist from IAN, addressed the audience.

Turudić initiated a discussion about the film and highlighted the ongoing refugee crises that began in 2009 and 2015, stating that for him, these are not just refugee crises but “mass migrations.” “The film connects stories of the hardships endured by people from this region. While working on the film, we felt the hope and strength they have to share their stories with others,” he added.

Bojana Trivunčić spoke about the issue of torture and its psychological impact on individuals. She emphasized that research has shown that the majority of torture victims are refugees, which is evident from the fact that most of her clients are refugees. “Refugees and asylum seekers have their obligations but also rights that they often cannot fulfill or face difficulties in achieving. Torture is violence carried out by an institution or anyone acting on behalf of the state, and for a person to recover from such an experience, the perpetrator must be punished,” she concluded.

The event concluded with IAN beneficiaries sharing parts of their stories, highlighting their experiences during their journey as refugees and their integration into Serbia. Through their performances, they demonstrated once again that it is possible to start anew and transform their lives despite the challenges and harrowing events they have endured, thereby ending the event on a positive note.

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