WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced that The Tahirih Justice Center in Baltimore has been awarded a $247,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement to fund the Empowering Survivors of Torture (EST) program. The EST program is a collaborative effort that seeks to provide holistic, trauma-informed, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services to survivors of torture and their families in order to assist them in their healing and recovery process. The program also seeks to increase community capacity to address the long-term and complex needs of survivors of torture who are building new lives in America.
“Since its founding, America has offered safety to those fleeing torture and persecution around the world. As we work to counter the extremism and corruption that often leads to torture abroad, it is important that America maintains sufficient capacity to help survivors start anew,” said Senator Cardin, author of The Global Magnitsky Act, which would allow the president to sanction individuals thought to have engaged in gross human rights violations including but not limited to torture. “There is a global need to help those who are fleeing torture and persecution. Often times these people who have endured unimaginable cruelty have no home to return to. With the help of HHS, the Tahirih Justice Center will help some of the most vulnerable populations in Maryland gain the stability needed to lead full and productive lives. This funding is a start, but our work is not over. I look forward to doing more to ensure that the United States plays a role in ending the root causes of torture abroad and helping the survivors living among us.”
“For so many survivors with few places to turn for help, this grant will be absolutely life-changing,” said Morgan Weibel, the Director of Tahirih Baltimore. “This unique partnership enriches our ability to respond to varied survivor needs, and it represents an innovative solution to a growing need.”
From 2010 to 2014, an estimated 10,500 refugees and asylees, including an estimated 525 to 3,700 survivors of torture, lived in Maryland. Due to budget cuts and overburden nonprofits, Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Howard Counties have become especially ill equipped to meet the needs of asylum-seekers, asylees, and refugees who have been tortured. The Baltimore Office of theTahirih Justice Center works with survivors and community members to seek long term solutions to meet the long-term needs of survivors and their families. Over the three-year period that the program is funded, the EST Program will seek to provide at least 60 survivors with increased access to social, mental, health and legal services that assist them in the healing and recovery process. Additionally the program will build the community’s capacity by training approximately 208 professionals and community members with tools, resources, and expertise to provide the aforementioned services to torture survivors.
The population served through direct services will include torture survivors from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Rwanda and Ethiopia. Trainings will target attorneys, law enforcement, and social services providers; mental health professionals; and ethnic community leaders and members. Local partners working on the program include the Intercultural Counseling Connection as well as, the Asylee Women Enterprise.