09 December 2021
In advance of last months’ 19th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Committee on Victim Assistance convened representatives from States with a significant number of mine victims/survivors including, Cambodia, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Yemen, and thematic experts to discuss the status of victim assistance (VA) programming. The meeting – an opportunity for States to discuss with partners, their progress in fulfilling commitments under the Oslo Action Plan – included VA experts, ICBL-CMC Investing in Action Programme grantees and landmine survivors, emphasized the importance of incorporating gender and diversity in programme initiatives.
Jesus Martinez, ICBL-CMC member and specialist on rights for persons with disabilities joined the Chair of the Committee on Victim Assistance, the Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Program Coordinator, in providing opening remarks.
States presented to the meeting advances and challenges in national victim assistance efforts, with many reporting success in expanding gender inclusivity, as well as participation from persons with disabilities, and particularly mine survivors. Several States noted improving accessibility, however, they also expressed a need for outreach and education to expand public awareness of VA services. Overall, the lack of data collection and needs assessment activities were cited in the presentations as persistent challenges, as well as the lack of direct funding, and the impact from ongoing conflicts.
Ongoing gaps in education and accessibility were also highlighted by ICBL-CMC participants and partners, in a breakout session on data collection led by the Thailand VA Committee Chair together with Landmine Monitor Impact team leader, Loren Persi.
Additional breakout sessions also addressed the importance of implementation frameworks, national ownership, and adopting a multi-sectoral approach, to strengthening VA implementation. National advocacy efforts, such as those carried out by Investing in Action grantees were flagged as a key component for successful VA programming.
A final session of the day-long meeting was devoted to the importance of integrating mental health and social services as part of victim assistance programming, emphasizing the link between physical and mental health. The discussion led by a representative from the World Health Organization, with input from the Tajikistan Mine Action Centre and ICBL-CMC member Humanity and Inclusion Colombia, cited this integration as an opportunity for strengthening multisectoral programming at national level.