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Berlin refugee center treats, trains traumatized migrants

The Center for Torture Victims offers counseling and training to refugees so they can quickly get back on their feet. The model could be used by other organizations around Germany, President Joachim Gauck has said.

"I am always afraid and I have nightmares. To this day, I don't know where my brother is," a 31-year-old Syrian explained during a visit by the German president to the Center for Torture Victims (BZFO) on Thursday.

According to the center, around 30 percent of migrants coming to Germany suffer from trauma, depression, paranoia and nightmares. These problems often get in the way of settling down and leading a normal life.

The organization, which was founded in 1992 to cater to migrants coming from Iraq and people who survived civil war in the former Yugoslavia, has a team of over a hundred doctors, therapists, teachers, social workers and interpreters. They offer psychological counseling, language courses and professional training for refugees in Berlin.

Flüchtlinge auf Mittelmeer

More than one million refugees arrived in Germany last year

An example for the rest of Germany

Despite a budget of 6.5 million euros ($7.25 million) in 2015, the BZFO could take in only 500 trauma victims, a drop in the ocean of nearly 60,000 refugees who live in Berlin alone. Most patients came from Syria, Afghanistan and Chechnya. Some 1.1 million refugees are estimated to have entered Germany in 2015.

"The only sad thing is that nine out of 10 people seeking help do not get a place," German President Joachim Gauck said during his visit. "But it is part of reality that the amount of psychological suffering is much more than the treatment that is offered," he added.

The president also said the simultaneous treatment and training of refugees could become a model for other German states.

mg/sms (dpa, AFP, KNA)

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