Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Victims Unite in Israel

A delegation from FAIR returned from Israel at the weekend after a ten day study tour in the area. The group met victims groups and representatives of both voluntary and statutory groups which assist victims in Israel. As a state Israel has placed victims clearly at the centre of both policy and practice, with specific laws to provide practical rights and provision for them. FAIR has long felt that there is much that can be learnt from the decades of experience built up by Israel.

The visit which took the team to meet many ordinary people whose lives have been destroyed by terrorism, is seen as a first step by all involved. Many groups shared similar experiences as victims in Northern Ireland and we firstly shared our stories and found so much common ground. In all twelve groups were met ranging from government bodies such as an army rehabilitation centre where a holistic approach was taken to the treatment of soldiers who were injured, to victim support groups who provide practical care and aid to victims.

As a group we have learnt much and will be compiling a report, including recommendations on the future of provision and rights for victims. Other groups we met deal with the trauma experienced by the bereaved and injured and are leading the field internationally in the area of Post Traumatic Stress treatment. These groups like us have to deal with victims in an ongoing climate of violence and uncertainty, and they too live and work under threat.

The visit proved more successful than we could have imagined as once we met and talked with one group they contacted others who were keen to speak with us. The groups represented the full spectrum of victims from children to soldiers from widows to the injured. While each worked with different types of victims using different methods yet the amount of similarity between ourselves and the people we met was amazing. It is true that the pain of terror victims does not know land borders and despite the difference in culture religion and location there was indeed a meeting of minds.

We have developed what we feel will be lasting relationships with groups in Israel and there are a number of practical follow ups which we will be involved in. Indeed only today we were in contact with a number of groups as soon as we heard of the terror attack in Tel Aviv. The bomb was in a market close to the offices of a group we met and thankfully they were not injured although many others were. Groups we spoke too feared that despite the political moves there would be more violence in the weeks ahead.


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