Supporting families of the victims of terrorism

The Family policy intergroup of the European Parliament has held a meeting this Wednesday (April 27, 2016) about the “Specific support to the families of the victims of terrorism”.

During the meeting, Mrs. An Verelst, the policy officer of the “Victim Support Europe“, an umbrella organisation of NGOs helping and representing victims, explained how to support the families of victims of terrorist attacks. She pointed out the psychological and even physical problems family members of the victims are dealing with which makes them victims as well.Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 17.29.34

An important percentage of those victims can not deal with their every day obligations because of their losses. They need help as any other victim and the best thing for them is organising support centres at which all of the families hit by terrorism can gather, share their experiences, obtain some help and support each other.

Considering the fact of not knowing when the attacks are about to happen, the states has to develop a much better support system for the victims and families of the victims. The problem for the creation of this kind of support system is that lots of Member States of the European Union don’t believe they will be attacked. They don’t realize that it is very difficult to foresee when and if the attacks are about to happen.

It is not rare that family members of the victims are suing the governments and EU member states for not getting the proper help after the attacks. For example, it happens that some of the families had a really hard time finding their beloved ones, especially when the victims were foreigners. There should be a centralised information system connected to multiple organisations which provide them the neccessary information, proposed Mrs Verelst.

Another big issue mentioned by Mrs. Teresa Jimenez-Becerril Barrio, member of the European Parliament very involved in supporting victims of terrorism and their families, is the lack of long term support. The institutions are focus on the emergencies without realizing the long term psychological consequences that family members can endure. It is very important to provide them the needed psychosocial support so they can move on with their lives.

When the family members of the victims don’t live in the attacked countries this problems can be much more complicated. The embassies should be the key in organising a proper form of help in the home countries of the foreign victims. They should provide them with the needed information about where and how they can get the support.Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 17.29.23

The member states have to focus more on helping the family members of the victims which makes them victims as well. Terrorist attacks try to destroy the foundations of our society, the Family. For this reason it’s even more important to take care of the family at this specific tragic moments; because caring about the family is the perfect way to treat terrorism and reinforce the society.

Written by Jelena Susa, WYA European Regional intern.