Assessing the effects of war in Kosovo, a Harvard Medical Group found that 80% of Kosovars suffered from PTS. The most recent conflict in Kosovo ended in June 1999, leaving behind a society wide need for trauma relief and resilience: over 700,000 prisoners, ex-prisoners, disabled veterans and civilians who had been through, among other things, grueling police interrogations, and sexual, military and paramilitary violence.
Exemplifying IAHV’s systemic approach to trauma relief and resilience, the organisation coordinated its mission to post-war Kosovo with the support and collaboration of Kosovo’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Department of Justice, as well as special and civil police forces and diverse civil society groups throughout the region.
Indeed, IAHV delivered programming to elements from across the spectrum in Kosovo, including to Prisoner Rehabilitation Programs, disabled Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans, Police officers, Women’s Empowerment Groups, Public and Mental Health Professionals/Centres and Conflict Resolution specialists. The resulting commendations and testimonials provide evidence of the programme’s efficacy in the face of substantial need for trauma relief and resilience in post-war contexts.
IAHV’s Prisoner Rehabilitation Program began in November 2004, with a pilot program at Lipljan Prison in Pristina. Since then, hundreds of prison staff and prisoners underwent the program, every week. Reaching out to all ethnicities – Serbs, Albanians, Romas – the programs brought about such positive transformation that the Department of Justice in Kosovo invited IAHV to operate in all of Kosovo’s prisons.
In addition, more than 600 UN and civil police officers participated in IAHV’s programmes. Addressing harmful stress generated in the line of duty, and its bearing on professionalism and the ability to mediate disputes nonviolently, IAHV provided, in the words of many, activities which avoided stigmatising the officers as patients or people with problems. Likewise, and with the approval of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, IAHV treated a portion of the 2,500 disabled KLA Veterans community.
Finally, working with the Center for Mothers and Children, IAHV treated a number of women affected by sexual violence, providing women, in the words of Flora Brovina, Parliament Delegate and Director of Center for Mothers and Children, with the empowerment “to rebuild their own lives as well as those of their families and communities…the programme has helped women to alleviate the shame, guilt, numbness, disorientation, sense of isolation, distrust and disconnection…” providing “survivors with a method of treatment and intervention that is self contained, personal, private and learned as a like group of traumatized individuals.”