The repercussions of the genocide in Kurdistan have both medical and psycho-social implications. Medical difficulties from the chemical attacks include lung damage, blindness, skin disorders, fertility and reproductive disorders, congenital defects, and other various illnesses which require constant and specialist attention. Mental health care is also crucial since victims face survivor guilt, post traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression, various degrees of emotional strife and other psychological problems.1
Multidisciplinary trauma centres would be crucial in assisting former victims and victims’ families in coping with the psychological repercussions of the genocide as well as moving forward as a society.
Heartland Alliance in Iraq has a professional staff of 20 in Kurdistan and five in the central Iraqi town of Karbala working in both medical and mental healthcare. Heartland Alliance also offers mental health training programmes to help Iraqi and Kurdish healthcare practitioners as well. This has been enhanced by Heartland Alliance's Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Violence, one of a handful of torture treatment centres in Iraq focusing on individuals traumatised by violence, torture, post traumatic stress disorder, displacement, and other psychological obstacles.2
The Zakho Emergency Hospital and Trauma Centre was completed in 2009 and built with the Economic Support Funds (ESF) given by the United States. The trauma centre includes surgical wards, MRI and X-Ray facilities.3
The Kirkuk Centre for Torture Victims has a specialised survivor project called The Halabja Centre for Victims of Chemical Attacks which offers psychosocial and medical treatment for chemical weapons victims and their families.4
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health is conducting a study called ‘A Controlled Trial of Mental Health Interventions for Common Mental Health Problems Experienced by Torture Survivors Living in Kurdistan, Iraq.’ This study will determine the effectiveness of the counselling intervention methods and treatments for torture and trauma survivors in Kurdistan and focus on depressive and mental disorders.5
Trauma assistance and therapy is a crucial tool for the recovery of survivors of genocide. Though there are some treatment centres for the Kurdish population, the number of victims exceeds resources. General medical services can only do so much and often times the long-term psychological needs are the ones that need to be focused on.
The KRG is working with the World Health Organisation to set up psychological services centre, and a Child Protection Centre being built by the KRG.
BBC News. (2002) ‘Kurds look back with fear.’ Available at:
Heartland Alliance. (2008) ‘Heartland Alliance in Iraq: Sharing our Expertise Overseas.’ Available at:
U.S Army. (2009) ‘Zakho Emergency Hospital holds ribbon cutting.’ Available at:
Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims. (2011) ‘Projects for Victims of Chemical Attacks in Halabja.’ Available at:
Infocus People of UMMS. (2009) ‘Helping heal trauma a world away.’ Available at: