Online Program

Trauma, torture and related violence in post-conflict Libya: A mixed-methods needs assessments survey

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Ahlam Chemlali, Miss, Urban Violence, DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture, Copenhagen, Denmark
A national survey including 2,692 interviews showed that every fifth household responded to having a family member disappeared, 11% reported having a household member arrested and 5% reported one killed. Of those arrested, 46% reported beatings, 20% positional torture or suspensions, 16% suffocation and 5% reported having suffered sexual, thermal or electrical torture.

The consequences at the level of the population are massive: 29% of individuals report anxiety and 30% report depression, while PTSD symptoms were reported by 6%. These results indicate that the respondents at the time of interview could still be in an acute or post-acute stage and have yet to reach the post-trauma stage, hence we predict that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress reactions will increase over time, if or when the  conflict subsides.

Data show that internal displacement is major concern in Libya, indicating a major source of long-term human suffering and political instability. Furthermore, our data support the allegations that widespread human rights violations and gross human rights violations have taken place in Libya. Both the short-term consequences of the conflict as well as the long-term consequences of the Gaddafi regime are in large measures still unaddressed. The study concludes that any future government of Libya faces massive challenges in alleviating human suffering and improving mental health and adressing the adverse conflict-related health impacts. However, as the internal conflict continues more and more people are affected by human rights violations aggravating mental health afflictions, straining the social fabric and the capacity of the Libyan state.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Design a needs assessments survey for post-conflict settings. List 5 major conflict related health consequences. Assess the effects of torture and related violence. Discuss the difficulties of working with mental health issues in the MENA region. Compare coping mechanisms and psychological symptoms.

Keyword(s): War, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My dissertation was on victims of violence and torture in post-conflict Libya with field work in Benghazi and Tripoli. I have authored several reports and articles on issues regarding health, human rights, trauma, torture and conflict. I am a part of multiple international research programs and have conducted research activities and field mission in several low-income countries and post-conflict settings, across Sub-Saharan Africa, the MENA region and South Asia.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.