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Friday, November 10, 2006

Queen Rania marks first anniversary of hotel bombings with survivors and victims' families

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah was at the Civil Defense headquarters, Thursday, to meet with some of the victims of last year's tragic hotel bombings, as well as their families. Her Majesty also joined members of the National Steering Committee to discuss the launch of the Humanitarian Support Network.

During a very emotional meeting with some of the survivors and victims' families, Queen Rania reiterated her support to everyone affected by the tragedy. "The more we stand together, the stronger we stand," she said. "Nothing can fill the void of your loss, but we stand by you to help you deal with it." The Queen, the survivors and victims' families observed a moment of silence and prayer for the men, women and children who had tragically lost their lives in last year's attacks.

A few of the injured survivors and a number of the victims' family members recounted the emotional experiences of the past year. All of the families at Thursday's meeting had benefited from the Jordan Society for Protection against Family Violence (JSPV) National Compassion and Support Center where they received psychological counseling, as well as medical and financial assistance to help ease the burden of the trauma.

Her Majesty noted the need for psychological support for children, who she said are the most in need of a return to normalcy. "What they see and feel at this stage in their lives, will affect them later on," she said.

The victims expressed their gratitude towards those who have helped them in their ordeal. The sister of one of the men killed in the attacks last year thanked the counselors: "After we had gone through that horrible experience, they helped us realize there is still good in the world. They also showed us that we weren't on our own. It wasn't just our family that was affected."

The center was launched by Queen Rania after last year's bombings. The initiative came from the JSPFV and included a toll-free hotline number where anyone affected by the bombings could call in to discuss their feelings and needs with the counselors.

Earlier, Her Majesty met with the National Steering Committee of Humanitarian Support Network. The network was launched prior to Her Majesty's arrival during a signing ceremony between the four partners: the Ministries of Health and Social Development, the Civil Defense Directorate, and the JSPFV. The four entities, along with representatives from the private sector, professionals in the field, and the National Center for Forensic Studies, make up the Steering Committee.

The creation of the network serves to institutionalize support in times of crisis and provide mechanisms for coordination and cooperation for injured victims and family members affected by the crisis, while also providing capacity building for those dealing with humanitarian support.

Her Majesty noted that during times of emergencies and disasters, institutionalized guidelines are needed, and it is during times of non-crisis that such things can be outlined. "Training needs to be continuous," she said, "because, God forbid, if something happens a few years down the line, we need to make sure no one forgets the training he or she received".

Reem Abu Hassan, who heads the steering committee, briefed Queen Rania on the National Compassion and Support Center's progress over the past year. She said the center had taken on 22 cases, noting that some families declined assistance, while others received counseling for a number of months. Some of the families who asked for help, she said, are still receiving psychological counseling.

The team of peer counselors received up to 45 hours of training. Each of the 16 groups worked with two or three families. The groups continue to do follow up visits on a monthly basis to assess the psychological progress of each of the families.

Her Majesty commended the efforts of the counseling teams, saying that the follow up process with each and every family is very important.

Queen Rania also posted her thoughts on her website, saying, "We may have felt helpless the day of the bombing – yet, through our tears, we found an awesome power: power in solidarity, power in compassion, power not only in condemning what is wrong but in having the courage to champion what is right."