Traumatized victims of Norwegian massacre to holiday in Antalya

January 10, 2012, Tuesday/ 16:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Young Norwegians who have remained traumatized in the aftermath of the Norwegian massacre of July 22, when political extremist Anders Behring Breivik opened fire on the island of Utoya, killing 69 people, will take part in therapeutic holiday sessions in the Turkish holiday resort of Antalya.

Oya Demirel, a member of the Norwegian healthcare and social work company Scandinavian Life Center (SLC), explained in press statements that the Norwegian Health Ministry is providing funding for young people who have been psychologically scarred by the July 22 massacre to go to Antalya for a three-week period of respite and therapy in the sun.

The phenomenon of Norwegians being sent to Antalya for therapy and respite is not a new one, Demirel said. “The Norwegian Health Ministry has been organizing group holidays to Antalya for pensioners for the past five years. These involve participants being provided with accommodation in high quality hotels, along with physiotherapy and other relaxation therapy and treatment. Following the terrorist attacks of July the ministry has decided that such schemes should also be aimed at young people. Norway is a very peaceful country which made the massacres of last summer all the more shocking and traumatic. Many people have remained emotionally and psychologically scarred as a result,” she said.

Demirel added that the fact that for most of the year daylight hours in Norway are very short due to the country's proximity to the North Pole, meaning that a considerable portion of the day is passed in darkness, has led to increased levels of depression. This in turn had led to an increase in the number of people seeking to escape to sunnier climes.

“Prior to the massacre, figures revealed that 850,000 of Norway's 4.5 million population wanted to get away to have a holiday in a brighter, sunnier climate. However, this figure rose to 1 million after the attacks. Those who receive a recommendation from a doctor qualify for a state-funded, three week ‘vacation',” Demirel said.

Last year, 6,000 Norwegians holidayed in Antalya courtesy of SLC's activities. The figure is expected to rise to 9,000 this year, Demirel explained.

“Around 40 percent of Norwegians who have travelled to Antalya for therapy have done so with a valid doctor's report and thus not paid for anything,” she said, adding that pensioners do not require medical evidence to access the scheme due to provisions in Norway's constitution.

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