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Annie Sovcik, Esq., CVT’s Director of the Washington Office, writes on the need to expand mental health services for refugees and survivors of humanitarian emergencies worldwide. CVT is the co-founder of the Global Mental Health Advocacy Working Group.

Throughout the world, oppression, armed conflict, and other crises are inflicting great suffering upon millions of men, women, and children from countries such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Burma. As a result, the numbers of refugees fleeing violence continues to swell at an astonishing pace, creating an overwhelming global humanitarian emergency.

In its “Mid-Year Trends 2013” report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that their population of concern –persons forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution, statelessness, and violence—stood at 38.7 million, the highest level on record. Syria was the source of the largest displacement.

Many of these refugees are survivors of torture, sexual and gender based violence, religious persecution, political oppression, and other human rights abuses. Some have witnessed the death of loved ones, escaped massacres, or have been targeted for other atrocities.

Whether living as refugees in a neighboring country or displaced internally, these survivors live in extreme uncertainty about what the future may hold for themselves, their families, their communities, or their entire countries. For people who have endured such distressing experiences, there is an increased and severe risk to their psychological well-being.

Read the rest at The Hill’s Congress Blog.