06 March 2014

Two survivor leaders speak out at the workshop on victim assistance at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week, from 4–6 March.

The workshop, which includes participants from various ministries of social affairs and other government ministries from some 20 countries in Africa, as well as some other key organizations, is organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in cooperation with the African Union. (See the African Union opening statement)

Secretary General of the Saharawi Association of Landmine Victims (Asociación Saharaui de Víctimas de Minas, ASAVIM) Aziz Buchar Haidar heads the delegation of the Sahrawi Republic.

He is a survivor leader and a respected member of the Sahrawi community and refugee camps, fulfilling a very important role as the survivors’ representative in communication with the government and parliament, by promoting victim assistance and inclusive decision making on issues relating to survivors and persons with disabilities.

This year ASAVIM is working with cooperatives of persons with disabilities and members of their families on economic projects, with support of ICBL-CMC’s Survivor Networks Project and the UK NGO Action on Armed Violence (AoAV).

At the meeting Haidar raised the issue of the needs of survivors and other persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities who are refugees are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, yet are often overlooked in general discussions on assistance.

Bekele Gonfa, a ICBL-CMC VA focal point, survivor leader and former director of the Ethiopian Landmine Survivors Network, attended the meeting in the role of a survivor representative spokesperson. He addressed the group on the challenges that the victims face in accessing assistance.

The workshop “To Advance the Implementation of Victim Assistance Obligations Arising from Various Treaties in Africa” includes discussions on planning, data collection and the ways different countries face the challenges of assisting survivors and other people with disabilities.

Regional approaches to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the African Decade for Persons with Disabilities have also been discussed.

You can read more about ICBL-CMC Survivor Networks Project activities here.

Secretary General of the Saharawi Association of Landime Victims, Aziz Bucher Haldar
Bekele Gonfa (left) ICBL-CMC VA focal point and survivor leader