Workshop on ‘Feasibility of Setting up a Trauma Care Centre for the Victims of Terrorism Violence in Pakistan’


Past Event

Dr Saeed Shafqat, Dr James Tebbe, Dr. Fatima Haider, Dr. Mathew Jeong

FCC Lahore

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A workshop on ‘Feasibility of Setting up a Trauma Care Centre for the Victims of Terrorism Violence in Pakistan’ was held at the Centre For Public Policy and Governance, FCCU.
On Thursday April 12th 2018, the Centre for Public Policy and Governance (CPPG), Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) held a workshop on the Feasibility of Setting up a Trauma Care Centre (for the Victims of Terrorism Violence in Pakistan).

The session began with Dr. Shafqat, Director and Professor CPPG, welcoming the audience, especially thanking Dr. Mathew Jeong for his work in coordinating the event and initiating discussion on a very important subject. The NGO, The Grief Directory, also played a pivotal role in participating in the event and highlighting the importance of setting up a trauma centre for the victims of violence and terrorism in Pakistan. Two professionals from South Korea, Dr. Hanik Yoo and Dr. In Hee Cho contributed to the workshop with valuable insights on their experience with working with victims, survivors and families of traumatic incidents.

Dr. James Tebbe, Rector Forman Christian College, appreciated the initiative and remarked that it was an area of development that was very important to a nation’s wellbeing. Trauma victims require greater attention given that we live in an area where such incidents are frequent, although at a decline in recent years.

Dr. Mathew Jeong spoke about the fact that Pakistan ranks number four in terms of terrorism and violence but there is no mechanism for looking after victims. A positive development however has been the progress in the police departments where there is emphasis on infrastructure and management for officers dealing with incidents of violence.
Dr. Fatima Haider, founding member of The Grief Directory, said that she was personally involved with this subject because her husband and son both had been killed in an incident of sectarian violence. She stressed the need for working towards a ‘one-window’ approach to managing those affected by hate crime and terrorist acts. This needed to be complemented with greater research and reliable data that was currently lacking.

The workshop included a series of testimonies where people shared their own stories of experiencing violence in their families and communities. Mr. Dilawar Samar, team leader of the Care Team of the All Saints Church in Peshawar talked about the twin suicide attacks that took place on 22nd September 2013 killing around 98 people and injuring about 200 at the Church. He also lost his six-year-old daughter in this tragic incident. Mr. Amir, another member, relayed his experience in the Peshawar attack and highlighted the lack of medical assistance and paramedic services which ultimately lead to an increase in the death ratio of the attack.

Ms. Julia a psychologist and member of the Care Team of the All Saints Church explained that the victims of these suicide bomb attacks face a variety of psychological effects including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), chronic pains, depression, anxiety, loss of scholastic and occupational functions and substance abuse to name a few.

Mr. Tahir from the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network recounted his personal story where his wife was killed in a suicide attack at the WFP office in Islamabad on 5th October 2009. He described that around 35,000 civilians have died as a result of terrorist attacks indicating that between 6-800,000 families have been affected as a result. He argued that a majority of survivors have been lost to the system and that the biggest challenge was being able to identify and reach them, given that many have to relocate homes after tragedy hits. Mainstreaming these people and being able to communicate with them effectively was a prerequisite to establishing any sort of a trauma centre.

Rt. Rev. Irfan Jamil (Bishop of Lahore, Church of Pakistan) identified the lack of capable human resources to manage the after effects of terrorist attacks. Additionally he argued for the need of motivation at the grassroots level to overcoming mass fear and frustration.

Mr. Farukh from the Shaheed Foundation Pakistan spoke about the success of efforts that aim to support the financial, nutritional, and educational and health needs of survivors and their families. He noted that around 1,966 families are being supported by his foundation and that around 3 million PKR a month was spent on their welfare through financial resources collected from within the country.  His brother was killed based on his sectarian background in 1988.

Mr. Muhammad Hussain, a clinical psychologist in training, drew attention to the plight of the Hazara community in Quetta, Balochistan where frequent target killings have disrupted their everyday life. He said that the Hazara have been known for being an educated and peaceful people but that they have not received adequate support or protection from public agencies including security forces. Bishop Irfan Jamil, also spoke on the occasion.

Dr. Yoo, Director of Seoul Our Child Psychiatric Clinic and Seoul Brain Research Institute and Affiliated Professor of Department of Education in Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea spoke next introducing the 2year project he conducted where a care camp was set up in response to the All Saints Church tragedy in Peshawar. The response involved the use of Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) and EMDR-IGTP interventions and also art therapy to help victims deal with the psychological impact of terrorist incidents. He said that trauma incidents are usually not a one-off event, rather characterized by repetitious trauma that victims experience. This can include financial struggles, repeated visits to hospitals, re-traumatization when relatives go to church, religious dilemmas, educational issues and so on. Moreover, trauma recovery required more than psychological and system interventions; human relationships played a significant role. He reasoned that managing trauma demanded a multi-disciplinary holistic approach, long and continuous management as opposed to quick fixes, flexible implementation that was culturally sensitive and finally objective assessments to see effectiveness of programs.

Dr. InHee Cho MD, PhD is a Child and adolescent Psychiatrist from South Korea. She has experience working with victims of traumatic incidents. Dr. Cho spoke about the 16th April 2014 event where the ferry Sewol carrying 476 people, of which 325 were high school students sank with around 172 survivors. She spoke about how Korea has developed a national preparedness response to the psychological trauma associated with national disasters. This included amongst other things a Special Act for the Sewol Ferry case (2015), multidisciplinary academic society for psychological trauma studies in Korea and the establishment of the Daegu Trauma Centre in 2017. Investments were also made in the career development and management plan for multi-level human resources of disaster mental health. Dr. Cho also spoke about the role of Psychological First Aid as a tool to manage survivors of national level disasters including earthquakes and fires.

Summing up the proceedings of the workshop, Dr.Shafqat pointed out the need of setting up a National Truama Center, that could collect data on the victims of terrorism and their families and provide relief, psychological counciling and rehablitation to the sufferers of the terrorist acts. He also observed that a research, teaching, training and practical needs driven collaboration with Grief Directory and Korean uinversities and CPPG is being planned.

Over 80 participants attended the workshop with a diverse audience, including psychologists, medical doctors, pediatricians, and faith groups, NGOs, pediatricians, academics and student participants.