The United Nations human rights chief today called on donors to support the fund that provides financial assistance to groups providing psychological, medical and social assistance to thousands of torture survivors and their families worldwide. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture provides assistance to over 300 projects in more than 65 countries in Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. However, a funding shortfall has forced it to reduce support to many programmes, including legal aid initiatives that are crucial to fighting impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice.“Member States that have not yet contributed to the Fund should reconsider their position and donate generously so that more and more victims could benefit from its work,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said at the opening of an exhibit of artwork created by victims of torture as part of their rehabilitation process, to mark the Fund’s 30th anniversary. Contributions to the Fund rose to $11.6 million in 2008, but donations by UN Member States have been dwindling over the past two years to just over $9 million last year, according to Mercedes Doretti, the head of the Fund’s Board of Trustees.“The funding shortfall has forced the Board to cut by 10 to 20 per cent the grants awarded this year to more than 300 projects in more than 65 countries,” said Ms. Doretti, who joined the High Commissioner at the exhibition opening. Ms. Pillay noted that beneficiaries of the Fund’s support are victims of both physical and psychological torture, ranging from severe beatings, sexual violations and mock executions to continuous threats, sleep deprivation and been forced to face the torture of loved ones.“Every project funded is unique,” said Ms. Pillay, who recently visited one of the schemes supported by the Fund in Africa: the VIVRE CAPREC rehabilitation centre for victims of violence in Thiès, Senegal. The centre has helped more than 1,000 victims from 17 countries across the African continent during the last 10 years.The Fund, created in 1981 to help ease the physical and psychological effects of torture on victims and their families, celebrated its 30th anniversary on 26 June, which is also observed annually as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.To mark the Fund’s anniversary, the UN headquarters in Geneva is housing, from 27 to 30 June, an exhibition of paintings, pictures, sculptures and other types of artistic expression created by victims of torture as part of their rehabilitation process. 28 June 2011The United Nations human rights chief today called on donors to support the fund that provides financial assistance to groups providing psychological, medical and social assistance to thousands of torture survivors and their families worldwide.