Update on survivor inclusion

girl in empowerment project in Angola
© Giovanni Diffidenti - An economic empowerment project in Angola.

ICBL for a “twin-track approach”

ICBL advocates for a "twin-track approach" to inclusive development and victim assistance. Such an approach means ensuring that all appropriate and "mainstream" economic development programs are fully accessible to landmine and explosive remnants of war survivors by removing all physical and attitudinal barriers that might prevent their participation. It also means simultaneously providing specialized programs and initiatives to strengthen the capacity of survivors, so that they are better positioned to actively participate in and benefit from development. ICBL referred to Action #41 of the Cartagena Action Plan calling for States Parties to ensure that development cooperation is inclusive of, and accessible to, persons with disabilities, including mine survivors.

Similarly, the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance recommended that: "While integrating victim assistance into development programs it may also be necessary to provide specialized services to ensure that mine survivors and other persons with disabilities are empowered to participate on an equal basis with others."

ICBL states further that “(…) survivors have the right to be part of the development of their countries, making contributions in the implementation and as beneficiaries of these [health, governance etc.] programs. Additionally, the inclusion of survivors helps to ensure that, as systems are designed and progress, they are being adjusted in ways that are accessible to all persons with disabilities, including survivors.”

ICBL News, December 2010

Survivors on peer support

ICBL Victim Assistance Focal Points, Jesus Martinez from El Salvador and Bekele Gonfa from Ethiopia (both mine survivors) demonstrated of the usefulness of peer support during the parallel program for Victim Assistance Experts Sessions from 29-30 November to 2 December at the 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva.

Survivors Declaration at Vientiane Conference

On the last day of the First Meeting of States Parties on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, survivors, including the Ban Advocates, repeated their commitment to
1. Share the truth about the experience of survivors, about the horrors of cluster bomb victimization and fight for the Convention to reach its aims;
2. Actively engage in advocating for governments to join the Convention and to support victim assistance efforts;
3. Work with their governments and all willing partners to search for better solutions and bring about positive change in the lives of survivors and our communities;
4. Foster positive change and contribute to the socio-economic development of their families and communities.

Ban Advocates want to see improvements in their “daily lives”

In a press release by Handicap International on 12 November, Ban Advocates welcomed concrete commitments from States and said they will remain vigilant together with Handicap International regarding the implementation of these commitments, particularly victim assistance. “The Oslo Treaty has established strong obligations in terms of victim assistance. We now have an action plan which requires governments to turn their legal and financial obligations into reality. These actions are exactly what victims like me have long been waiting for in order to see improvements in our daily lives," so explained Thoummy Silamphan, 22 and Lao Ban Advocate.

Lao Ban Advocates met with Princess Astrid of Belgium

On 9 November 2010, Latsamy Voralath, Ta Douangchom, Thoummy Silamphan and Phet Latsabout spoke on behalf of all cluster munitions victims, directly to Princess Astrid of Belgium about the challenges that the cluster munitions victims face in Lao PDR, and how to address those challenges. In her speech to the First Meeting of States Parties in Vientiane, Princess Astrid said: “The concrete situation of affected communities, trying to live with this constant threat, and the practical situation of victims, must lead us in the elaboration of actions in order to improve their daily live.

Phongsavath Manithong dancing with Lao Bang Fai Dancers 

Phongsavath Manithong, Lao Ban Advocate, 19 years and cluster munitions survivor since 2008, attended the First Meeting of States Parties to the CCM in Vientiane with the group of Ban Advocates. On 11 November 2010, he joined in the new performance of a dance by the dance group Lao Bang Fai on cluster munitions survivors to give them hope for a brighter future.

Phongsavath Manithong with the Lao Ban Fai Dancers.

“I hope no one will ever use cluster munitions again” - At the occasion of the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions taking place in Vientiane, Lao PDR, from 9th to 12th November 2010, an important delegation of Ban Advocates from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Serbia, Tajikistan, the United States and Vietnam, joined the conference.
Thoummy Silamphan, a Lao Ban Advocate, concluded his own story by saying: “I survived the accident even though I had to travel far and for a long time to get medical treatment. I was able to get schooling because my disability did not require many special services. My education allowed me to volunteer and get a great job. I know this is not an opportunity all survivors in Laos have access to. But I hope that the implementation of the Convention will mean many more people will have the same opportunities.” He expressed his hope that they would receive these opportunities thanks to “good laws and policies”, “not only in the Lao PDR, but also in other affected countries.” He also hoped “no one will ever use cluster munitions again…” Finally, he said that in his new job and as a Ban Advocate he helps people to “understand the situation of survivors around the world.”

Lao Ban Advocates meetings at embassies and villages   

Lao Ban Advocates were very active in the lead up to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Vientiane in November 2010, during village meetings and embassy visits.
You can download the reports at the Ban Advocates blog.

Laos Training for Ban Advocates and Support Staff

Before the First Meeting of States Parties in Lao PDR, the Lao Ban Advocates and other Ban Advocates participated in a Workshop with advocacy and media activities and during which psychological support was foreseen. They practiced dealing with journalists and working with government representatives.

Cambodian survivors and campaigners urge Cambodia to join the CCM -     

On 31 October 2010, 100 survivors and campaigners boarded boats on the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to urge Cambodia to come on board and join the CCM. to Ban Landmine). On the symbolic Boat Trip, young mine survivors played traditional musical instruments. “The participation of all people today is evidence … that Cambodian people would really love to see its government to ban cluster bombs and to plan the actions to help survivors and clear land,” said Tun Channareth.

Cambodians celebrate cluster munitions meeting in Lao PDR

Lynn Bradach promoting the CCM at the UN First Committee in New York 

Lynn Bradach, whose son was killed in Iraq while clearing cluster munitions, was involved in lobbying activities at the First Committee at the UN New York and met with Representatives to convince them to adhere to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, insisting on the fact that cluster munitions kill in the first place civilians and as in her own case, even the own troops.

African Survivors at the Handicap International Workshop in Nairobi -

Given the call to develop national action plans on victim assistance as per the recently adopted Cartagena Action Plan, and the strong VA obligations laid out in the CCM, Handicap International has organized a workshop for government representatives, donors, civil society and service providers, including survivors and disability advocates on victim assistance on 13-14 October in Nairobi, Kenya.
Both Berihu Mesele and Aynalem Zenebe, as Ban Advocates from Ethiopia, as well as Bekele Gonfa attended the workshop.
For the speeches of Berihu and Aynelem see Ban Advocates blog.

Ban Advocate Pham Quy Thi at photo exhibition in Hanoi

The Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi together with Norwegian People’s Aid launched a photo exhibition on the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Hanoi Cinematheque on 8 October 2010. The event was attended by Ambassadors, including from some countries that have not yet signed the CCM, and Pham Quy Thi, who was featured in one of the short films shown at the exhibition. The exhibition, which displayed John Rodsted’s photos and short films, told the story of the legacy of cluster munitions in Vietnam.

Ban Advocate from Lao PDR in Paris, Luxembourg and Brussels

Phet Latsabout, Ban Advocate and cluster munitions survivor since she was young, visited Paris, Luxembourg and Brussels during her tour in Europe in September 2010. She met the “Grande Dûchesse” of Luxembourg and several government representatives.
More information, statements, press releases on