A group of 10 Ban Advocates and 3 support staff came from several affected countries such as, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Serbia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam, as well as an advocate from the United States of America to attend the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon, from the 12th to 16th September. The conference in Beirut, capital of heavily cluster munition-affected Lebanon, was attended by representatives from more than 120 states and hundreds of civil society campaigners from all over the world.
The Ban Advocates were involved in lobbying meetings through good coordination within regional groups with other campaigners. They met with several delegates from different regions of Europe: Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Finland, Macedonia and Romania; Africa: Uganda, Somalia and Sudan; Central Asia: Afghanistan and Tajikistan; and South East Asia: Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.
Several Ban Advocates raised the voices of the victims of cluster munitions to several media such as Aljazeera and Lebanese TV program.
Moreover, several members of the team were also active during some side events organized during the week. Both Lao Ban Advocates, Thoummy Silamphan and Latsamy Volalath, intervened during a side event organized by the NRA (National Regulatory Authority for the UXO sector) in Lao PDR on a Combined Approach to Implementing the CCM. They both explained how the Ban Advocates in Lao are working in cooperation with many other Lao partners. Seevue Xaykia, as Lao Ban Advocate Coordinator, explained what is done by Handicap International in terms of victim assistance and how the Ban Advocate project is part of the victim assistance strategy in Lao, to better include the victims in the universalization and the implementation process of the CCM.
A side event was organized by the Bosnian delegation with the support of Handicap International on the psychosocial support provided to the victims, with a particular focus on peer-support. Sladjan and Dusica Vuckovic, Serbian Ban Advocates, expressed at this occasion how they think it is essential for victims to receive further support, either from a peer orfrom a professional trained on psychotrauma. They both met with Norbert Haberlin several times, an expert who has worked with Handicap International. After this experience, they both expressed the need for providing to the victims professional support when needed, that’s to say in most cases, for individuals having experienced a cluster munition accident resulting in potential trauma.
All Ban Advocates came back home after such an intense week spent altogether in Lebanon, where we have all been so well welcomed!