FEEDBACK – 17th States parties conference on the Mine Ban Treaty: HI called for increased attention to victims

Posted by: on Dec 3, 2018 | No Comments

Last week, 93 States parties, 11 observer states, UN-Institutions, International Organisations and the big range of active members of ICBL, such as HI, exchanged at the yearly meeting of states parties about successes and challenges concerning the implementation of the Ottawa Convention.

HI has been working in many contaminated countries, clearing mines, organizing risk education and providing victims assistance. At the conference the organization emphasized that mine affected people urgently need more support.

A landmine-survivor from El Salvador, Jesús Martinez, who is working closely with HI, was invited to speak on the opening panel. “We have the collective aspiration of achieving a mine-free 2025 in as many states as possible” he emphasized. “Those of us who have experienced the devastating effects of landmines call on you to make a mine-free world a reality, where the rights and needs of all victims are fulfilled!”. See below a video statement from Eva Maria Fischer, Manager Advocacy and Development Education, HI Germany:

Numerous victim assistance activities

Elke Hottentot delivers ICBL VA statement at 17th MSP

Elke Hottentot, HI, delivers ICBL statement at the 17th MSP.

The recently published Landmine Monitor 2018 revealed not only the worldwide increase in the number of victims of Mines and unexploded ordnances, but also the concurrent decrease of funds for victim assistance. However people injured in a mine accident will require lifelong support to be able to live a dignified life.

On behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines ICBL, HI victim assistance expert Elke Hottentot delivered a strong statement calling on States to address the needs of the victims:

“A country that becomes mine-free is not suddenly victim-free: the needs of victims last throughout their lifetime. It is up to you, donor and affected states, to make sure that the plight of survivors and indirect victims is not forgotten!”

To feed this call with information, HI organized a number of activities on the need of victim assistance:

  • Videos showing projects of Humanity & Inclusion and other operators played in a corner during the entire conference and showed concrete examples of support for mine survivors,
  • A side event on Tuesday introduced a study to show an exemplary cooperation of a donor state and an effected state for effective victim assistance in Cambodia: see the study here.
  • Another side event on Thursday reported on a project linking Latin American mine survivors and other persons with disabilities to advocate for common rights.
  • HI also took part in an expert meeting on Victim assistance, where 23 states were actively participating – most of them affected states.

In all these meetings and events participants showed great interest in very concrete exchange on experiences and methods of victim assistance and raised important issues. For example, Bekele Gonfa from the Survivors Recovery & Rehabilitation Organization Ethiopia, at the panel of the VA side event, emphasized that effective victim assistance needs a wide range of diverse actors: “Ministries of social welfare are serving as focal point for victim assistance, but ministry of transport, education etc. should equally be involved!”. Prince Mired of Jordan, UN Special Envoy for the Mine Ban Treaty, told about his own experience: “Most of our ministries are overwhelmed. There is not one solution for everything. Legislation is key, but words on paper need to be implemented.”
In spite of the active interest of many delegates for victim assistance, it is worrying to note that only few potential donor states were part of these fruitful discussions – even if many states in plenary raised concern about this topic.

Among other important issues, the need for risk education right after the end of a conflict, to prevent mine accidents, was also raised by HI. Emmanuel Sauvage, Armed Violence Reduction Division, warned:

“I have one message to the international community: we have to be ready. When refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, will go back home, in countries massively contaminated by ERW, they will have to cope with this threat for decades!”

Emmanuel Sauvage in a side event panel at the at 17th MSP

Emmanuel Sauvage in a side event panel at the at 17th MSP