Monday, September 07, 2009
Photo: Landmine survivor, Prak Cheat, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Landmine survivors still have not found what they’re looking for, according to a new report called “Voices from the Ground.”
The 272-page report – issued by Handicap International and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is the first such report to actively engage survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).
A total of 1,645 survivors in 25 of the world’s most landmine-affected countries were surveyed for the report and asked about the services they received in the last five years.
The results are shocking.
Overall, only 25 per cent of respondents believed they were receiving more services in 2009 than in 2005.
One of the major complaints was that most specialized medical, rehabilitative and psychological services are located in urban centres and not accessible to many survivors who live in rural communities.
The majority of respondents were also pessimistic about their future job prospects and their ability to access higher education.
Victim assistance is one of the pillars of mine action, but it is the least funded of all of them.
The Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) states that “each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims and for mine awareness programs.”
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many countries rely on NGOs to provide victim assistance.
“Sometimes in countries embroiled in conflict or coming out of a conflict situation, national healthcare systems are damaged, under-resourced, and may not be able to provide for the needs of landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities,” said a spokesperson for Mines Action Canada (MAC).
In 2007, there were 5,426 casualties caused by mines, ERWs and victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), according to Landmine Monitor.
MAC believes countries that contribute to mine action need to do more to help landmine survivors.
“Perhaps the best way donor countries can show mine-affected countries that victim assistance is important is by funding victim assistance programs and working with mine-affected countries to strengthen services available to mine survivors, their families, communities, and other persons with disabilities,” said the MAC spokesperson.
What can Canada do?
“MAC would like the government to announce at the Second Review Conference (in Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, 2009) that it is committed to being a leader on this issue until at least the next review conference in 2014. This leadership can be expressed by announcing plans that Canada will be a top five donor each year by minimally providing $1 per Canadian per year (therefore, $33 million),” said the spokesperson.
To read Voices from the Ground, please click here.