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Working Group on Victim Assistance, Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Working Group on Victim Assistance

The goals of the Working Group on Victim Assistance continue to be:

  • To advocate for, monitor, and provide guidance to the international community as to where, what, and how victim assistance is needed;
  • To promote increased coverage, funding, and sustainability of victim assistance programs;
  • To promote improvements in the quality of programs for landmine victims and other persons with disability;
  • To facilitate inclusion of landmine victims in the substantive work of the Standing Committees, Meetings of States Parties, as well as national and international campaigns to ban landmines.

The WGVA is made up of 98 members representing 40 organizations and national campaigns. Landmine Survivors Network (LSN) has chaired the WGVA since its inception in 1998 and, in 2003, a graduate of the Raising the Voices program, Margaret Arach Orech of Uganda, was named co-chair.

Collaboration between the WGVA and the Standing Committee

A highlight of the WGVA’s activities in 2002/2003 was its participation in a consultative process carried out by UNMAS to guide the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration. The process identified emerging priorities for victim assistance: emergency and medical care, rehabilitation, prosthetics and assistive devices, employment and economic reintegration, as well as legislation and national planning. This identification of priorities will provide clearer direction for victim assistance implementers and affected states parties in planning victim assistance.

At the February 2003 Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, WGVA co-chair Becky Jordan, LSN, gave an overview of implementation of Article 6.3 of the Mine Ban Treaty, which urges that States Parties in a position to do so contribute to programs assisting landmine survivors. At the May 2003 Standing Committee meeting, Becky Jordan presented the preliminary results of a victim assistance study initiated in 1998. The study aims to determine progress made in victim assistance, using a study conducted by Canada as a baseline and information from the Landmine Monitor reports, to evaluate mine-affected countries based on six criteria.

Raising the Voices

The Raising the Voices leadership and advocacy training program for landmine survivors continued in 2002/2003, with support provided by Canada and Norway. The program builds the capacity of survivors from mine-affected countries to become advocates for landmine survivors and people with disabilities within their communities and now has graduates from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Raising the Voices participants took part in the UNMAS consultative process. In September 2002, Raising the Voices graduates from Africa (Angola, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda) participated in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties. In 2003, Raising the Voices participants came from Asia in preparation for the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok.

In February 2003, six survivors from Laos and Thailand participating in Raising the Voices spoke to the Standing Committee meeting and issued a joint statement urging governments to “promote persons with disabilities’ participation in the workplace.”

At the May 2003 Standing Committee meeting, ten Raising the Voices participants from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka highlighted accessibility as a fundamental right and key to enabling persons with disability to participate in society. They also cited the need for laws and policies that would provide a framework for equal participation of persons with disability.

Prosthetics & Orthotics

In May 2003, representatives of the WGVA met with several NGOs working to provide prosthetics and orthotics (P&O) to landmine survivors to develop a joint strategy and specific plans to strengthen coordination, collaboration, and long-term planning in mine-affected countries. The general consensus was that the need for services is increasing and is still far from being met.

The participants of the meeting voiced some concerns needing to be addressed. These included: exclusion of local NGOs from the provision and coordination of P&O services; competition between international organizations and rehabilitation centers, which could lead to failure in the transfer of services; and, differing mandates of international organizations which may cause difficulty in collaboration.

The different parties were able to establish a list of considerations for improving the result of rehabilitation projects. Key points included: collaboration to set common goals; exchange of information between workshops; inclusion of local partners in every aspect of the work; and, long-term commitment by donors, implementing agencies and recipients.

Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities:

In June 2003, the second UN Ad-Hoc Committee convened in New York to consider proposals for an International Convention to Promote the Rights of People with Disabilities. The WGVA, seeing the issue of rights for people with disabilities essentially as a human rights issue, gives full support to the convention.