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Conference on post-emergency responses

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, October 20
75 per cent of the people affected by the August military actions are facing serious psychological disorders, the Georgian Society for Psychotrauma suggests. Posttraumatic disorders and ways to overcome the psychological problems left by the war were the subject of a two-day conference held at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, beginning on October 17.

The conference was initiated by the Georgian Society for Psychotrauma and the European Society for Traumatic Stress Study. Georgian and foreign specialists gave speeches about trauma and its consequences, postwar family crisis and posttraumatic growth in children. The role of the state and society in addressing psychological trauma and international experience in this field were discussed.

Nino Makhashvili, President of Global Initiative Psychiatry, an organization which, among other local and foreign NGOs, was working with IDPs during and after the war, presented a report on lessons learned from the recent conflict in Georgia. Makhashvili said that teams of psychologists found themselves much more prepared for an emergency situation this time round and consequently their work was more effective than it would have been years ago.

“As soon as the war broke out in August, we suspended our holidays and got back to intensive work. Everyone tried to cope with the huge flow of refugees who needed our help and all resources were mobilized in order to make this happen. The Parliamentary Health Committee helped a lot in this,” Makhashvili said. She also pointed out some problems that had emerged during the work with IDPs. She said that the major problem had been the chaotic, uncoordinated responses to the crisis of different organizations and individuals, the inability to reach everyone and the high dependence on donor organizations.

The participants of the conference spoke about the timeliness of the event. Per Eklund, the Head of European Commission Delegation in Georgia, who attended the conference, stressed that the work done by Georgian and foreign NGOs in dealing with post-traumatic syndromes was very important. “This conference is highly relevant in Georgia right now. This problem should be addressed properly and timeously. It is very important to help people damaged by the recent conflict in the correct way,” he said.

The nature of media coverage during and after the conflict was another focus of the conference. Representatives of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma shared their own experience with Georgian colleagues. A special workshop, “Therapists and Journalists covering Trauma,” was held, where Georgian journalists who have been covering the conflict and representatives of Dart Center, discussed the necessity of the right approach to people with posttraumatic stress disorders.