30 January 2007

On 18 and 19 January 2007, in Alger, Algeria, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) actively participated in a Victim Assistance Training Workshop organized by the Algerian Ministry of National Solidarity and Handicap International (HI) Algeria. The ICBL was represented by Ayman Sorour, member of the ICBL Management Committee and head of Egyptian NGO Protection. Other participants included the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), HI France, HI Belgium, the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Follow the Implementation of the MBT, and representatives of seven local organizations.

The opening ceremony of the workshop included addresses by the Minister of National Solidarity, the Minister of Labor and Training, a representative of the Ministry of Social Security, the UNDP representative to Algeria, and the Canadian ambassador to Algeria. The working part of the meeting was led off by a presentation by the ICBL that showed how the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) and the Nairobi Action Plan applied to the Algerian situation.

The ICBL highlighted the large number of mines that Algeria has chosen to retain under Article 3 of the treaty, and asked that this number be reconsidered. The presentation also highlighted Algeria’s mine clearance deadline in April 2012. The chairman of the local NGO Solidarity presented its work and also gave a discussion on the needs of mine victims. To finish the session, the director of HI Algeria spoke on their activities, in conjunction with other NGOs, in support of persons with disabilities living in mined areas.

The audience expressed both great curiosity in learning more about what services are available for mine victims and strong support for giving greater help to those NGOs working in remote areas of Algeria. The presentation by HI France in the afternoon complemented the earlier one given their Algerian colleagues, discussing assistance for handicapped persons living in mined areas. Other presenters in the afternoon session were the GICHD, HI Belgium and HI France with topics including short and long term reintegration of mine survivors, the need for a mine victim registry in Algeria, and on the role of MRE in reducing accidents. The seven local NGO participants began Day 2 of the workshop with presentations outlining their projects and the challenges facing them.

HI France provided a session on first aid and physical and psychological reintegration for mine victims, followed by HI Belgium giving instruction on how to collect and use data effectively, particularly in advocacy work.

Discussion groups during the last part of the meeting produced the following recommendations:

  • Continue to pressure States not Party to join the MBT.
  • Train local NGOs on management, financial and strategic planning, existing national law, and micro credit.
  • Include mine victim assistance as a first priority in the activities of these organizations.
  • Create strong communications materials for local NGOs that are working on victim assistance.
  • Establish a database at the national level at the Ministry of National Solidarity based on local databases
  • Define the methodology of using the mentioned database.
  • Put in place and use a standard formula to be used by all NGOs for collecting information
  • Put into service a free telephone number to serve both mine victims and NGOs working with mine victims
  • Update and verify all databases at ministries of; employee and national solidarity, Mujahedin, and interior to allow better operational reaction towards concerned people.
  • Collect and complete data collection on new mine victims
  • Make known and available all services offered by the ministries of National Solidarity, the Interior and the Mujaheddin
  • Organize a training workshop on data collection in the near future.