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Elise Bittenbinder is President and Director of BAfF – the German Association of Psychosocial and Treatment Care for Victims of Torture and Refugees (since 1996). She is also the Managing Director and Clinical Psychotherapist at XENION e.V. (Care and Treatment Centres for Politically Persecuted), Berlin(since 2001) and has the Chair of European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture (EURONET) (since 2005). She works as an external consultant, trainer, and supervisor with GIZ in Gaza and Jordan (since 2010) and is a lecturer at the Alice Salomon Hochschule, Berlin and Helm Stierlin Institute, Heidelberg (2016 – 2020). For several decades, she has held leadership roles in national, European and international projects on mental health and psychosocial services after traumatic impact (since 2009) and she has also worked as psychotherapist in Centre for Torture Victims, Cologne, Germany (1988 – 2001). By education, she is clinical psychotherapist (since 1989), a couple and family therapist (1988 – 1989 and Washington, USA 1991), an accredited child and youth psychotherapist as well as an accredited supervisor (DGSv). She has extensive training and experience in providing capacity building measures to professionals in health, social services and education, staff of psychosocial centres, clinics, NGOs, GIZ, volunteers, civil society, political decision makers, officials of police, federal office of migration, local authorities, lawyers, judges, and cultural institutions.


Dr. Ekaterina Sokirianskaia has 18 years of experience working on human rights, conflict analysis, and conflict prevention in the North Caucasus. From 2011 to 2017, she served as International Crisis Group’s Russia/North Caucasus Project Director, supervising the organization’s research and advocacy in the region. From 2008-2011, Sokirianskaia established and supervised the work of Memorial’s new regional offices in Kabardino-Balkariya and Dagestan. Before that, from 2003-2008 Sokirianskaia was permanently based in Ingushetia and Chechnya and worked as a researcher and project director for Memorial Human Rights Centre and as a professor at Grozny University.

She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Central European University and has authored and co-authored numerous articles and reports on human rights, security, and conflict in the North Caucasus and Russia.


Dr. Blandine Bruyere is a clinical Psychologist, MHPSS advisor at International Medical Corps. Collective violence, exile, migration, expatriation, and their effects on mental health are at the heart of her concerns as a clinician, researcher, and teacher. She accompanies, individually or in groups, teenagers, adults, or families, on international humanitarian missions and in France.  She supports teams and institutions with training and analysis of their professional practices).


Tanya Lokshina, Associate Director for Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, is based in Moscow. Having joined Human Rights Watch in January 2008, Lokshina authored several reports on egregious abuses in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus region and co-authored a report on violations of international humanitarian law during the 2008 armed conflict in Georgia. Her recent publications include a range of materials on Russia’s vicious crackdown on critics of the government and on violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Lokshina is a recipient of the 2006 Andrei Sakharov Award, “Journalism as an Act of Conscience.” Her articles on human rights issues have been featured in prominent Russian and foreign media outlets, including CNN, the Guardian, Le Monde, the Moscow Times, Novaya Gazeta, and the Washington Post. Lokshina’s books include Chechnya Inside Out and Imposition of a Fake Political Settlement in the Northern Caucasus. In 2014, her article on the abusive virtue campaign against women in Chechnya was published in Chechnya at War and Beyond (Routledge Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe Series).

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Sergei Ustinov is a lawyer, member of the board of Legal Initiative human rights group. In 2011 he graduated from BIP-Belorussian Institute of Law. He worked for the Legal Initiative since 2006 and has been a member of its Board since 2012. He designed and launched the program on preventive self-defense called “Citizen and the rule of law. Legal and psychological aspects”.

Elena Gribanova is a crisis psychologist and a specialist on psycho-emotional trauma. She is the founder of "Help is near!", an anti-crisis center in Belarus. Since August 2020, she has been providing psychological support to victims of violence during protests in the Republic of Belarus and cooperates with civic initiatives “Zveno”, “Civic House,” and “Bi-Help.”

Azad Isazadeh is the Chair of the Scientific Council of the Association of Young Psychologists (Baku, Azerbaijan). He organized and implements a mobile psychological group that assists civilians affected by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. He graduated from the Medical Institute in Baku and began his career as a psychiatrist. In 1983 he studied at the All-Union Center for Psychotherapy and Medical Psychology in Moscow. In 1995 in London he carried out research on extreme psychology based on data collected during the 1st Karabakh War (1992-1994). From 2001 to 2014 he worked at the Women's Crisis Center in Baku. From 1997 to 2003 he carried out psychosocial rehabilitation of children in tent camps for internally displaced persons and refugees.

David Gevorgyan is the Director of the Center for Applied Psychology at Yerevan State University. Currently, he organizes and implements psychosocial support initiatives to displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh and military servicemen (Yerevan, Armenia). In 2003 he graduated from Yerevan University, worked as a psychologist. Since 2006 he has been teaching at the Department of Social and Clinical Psychology at Yerevan State University. For many years he has served as an expert at UNICEF, the European Court of Justice, and UNFPA, among other organizations. Since 2017, he has been an expert at Human Rights Defender (HRD) in Armenia. Since 2020, he is the head of the “Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors” project of the Armenian Scientific Association of Psychologists.

Lenssa Mohammed is a social and clinical psychologist and systemic family therapist. She has 10 years of experience working with refugees and survivors of human rights violations. From 2011 - 2017 she was working in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Lebanon, and Jordan consulting for the UN organization for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) regarding their mental health and psychosocial support structures. In Germany, she has worked for the German Association of Psychosocial Centers for Refugees and Victims of Torture (BAfFe.V.) on improving health care for refugees in Germany. Currently, she is providing psychosocial counseling to individuals and families as a freelance therapist. Further, she is working in a women’s shelter/ safe house providing psychosocial counseling to women who have experienced violence. She has broad experience in teaching and conducting workshops/ trainings on issues of health in the context of (forced) migration, trauma, conflict analysis, and self-care. 


Karin Mlodoch is a psychologist, founding member and project coordinator of the German-based NGO HAUKARI – Association for International Cooperation. Since 1995 HAUKARI has been engaged in projects of psychosocial support and empowerment of survivors of political, social and gender-based violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Iraq. Since 2020 she has been an Assistant Professor for Social Psychology and Intercultural Practice at the Sigmund Freud University, Berlin. In research and teaching, she focuses on the social and political dimensions of trauma, psychosocial practices in contexts of crisis and conflict, and critical perspectives on the West-East/North-South transfer of knowledge in the realm of psychology and psychosocial work. 


Dr. Rabih El Chammay is a psychiatrist and currently the head of the National Mental Health Programme at the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon. After founding the programme, he led the development and is currently overseeing the implementation of the first National Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy 2015-2020 aiming at reforming the Mental Health System in Lebanon towards community-based mental health services in line with human rights and the latest evidence that is currently under implementation. He has been working in public mental health, refugee mental health and health system strengthening for more than 14 years. He has been working on these topics in the MENA region as well as on the international level with various agencies such as WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, IMC and many other NGOs. He is also, a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.


Svetlana Yablonkaya graduated from the international Trauma and Recovery program of Harvard University, is a member of the first Russian logotherapy group at the Viktor Frankl Institute. She started working in 1993 with seriously ill children and their parents; she then worked with women refugees from conflict areas and supported practitioners who worked with victims of terrorist attacks. From 1995 to 2013, she cooperated with the emergency psychological assistance services (helpline) as a consultant, leader, supervisor, and trainer. She trained and supervised helpline teams from Moscow to Chukotka


Lela Tsiskarishvili is the Executive Director at the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT).  In October 2020 she was elected the President of the IRCT (International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims). Lela is a founder and board member of Human Rights House Tbilisi and one of the founders of the Georgian Society for Psychotrauma. She has worked as a consultant for various human rights groups and organizations on topics related to stress management, burnout, emotional safety, and also teaches at Ilia State University, the mental health program.

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