International Women's Day

Treating traumatised refugees with acupuncture

Elise Boghossian: helping to relieve the pain caused by Islamic State.
Elise Boghossian: helping to relieve the pain caused by Islamic State. DR

Moved by shocking images of the violence meted out by the Islamic State armed group against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, acupuncturist Elise Boghossian in 2014 decided to travel there to see what she could do to help. She founded the NGO EliseCare, which now has seven mobile dispensaries serving refugees in northern Iraq.


No one knows how many women and children were kidnapped and enslaved by the Islamic State armed group. In 2014, a medieval-style jihad unleashed by thousands of local and foreign fighters saw large swathes of northern Iraq and Syria fall under the group’s control. The movement was underpinned by the principle that women and girls from religious minorities could be taken as slaves.

Elise Boghossian - EliseCare

The international community looked on in horror, but very few people took action. Elise Boghossian is an exception. Armed with her acupuncture needles, she traveled to northern Iraq, leaving her children and comfortable life in Paris behind.

“The first time I went to Iraq I was completely alone. I didn’t have colleagues or work with a specific organization. I just had my acupuncture needles to offer people pain relief,” explains Elise Boghossian.

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