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To assist the victims

Explosive weapons Rehabilitation
International

Assisting landmine victims is one of the principal obligations of the Ottawa Treaty6. It is also HI’s raison d’être

Abdel was 16 years old when he lost his leg in a landmine explosion. HI has helped him rebuild his life.

Abdel was 16 years old when he lost his leg in a landmine explosion. HI has helped him rebuild his life. | © HI

HI’s history intertwined with that of landmine victims

HI was created 40 years ago out of outrage at the human damage being caused by landmines. In 1982, HI ran its first project to provide services that included the provision of prosthetics to 6,000 Cambodian refugees who had been injured or lost limbs in mine accidents. Ten years later, in 1992, HI teams had already provided assistance to more than 10,000 people in 26 when our work to address the human impact of landmines was reinforced by a political commitment to ban landmines. This commitment led to the adoption of the Ottawa Treaty.

What suffering do landmines cause?

Landmines kill and injure people. They cause physical and psychological damage, affect people’s livelihoods and can result in social marginalisation. Landmine “victims” include not only those injured and killed, but their families and also their communities, as their land is contaminated by these weapons and other explosive ordnance. Being a landmine survivor triggers a chain reaction that can lead to disability and exclusion...:

• The injury often results in amputation that without the necessary rehabilitation
can cause life-long disability.

• The person may lose their employment and income due to discriminatory attitudes. If he or she was the sole breadwinner, the whole family can be plunged into poverty.

• Losing a limb can cause depression due to the way in which society perceives people
with disabilities and changes in self-perception.

• Prejudice towards people with disabilities can lead to exclusion from all other aspects of social life, such as cultural gatherings, weddings and other celebrations.

• Additional barriers, including inaccessible buildings and information or discriminatory policies and laws, often means that the rights of people with disabilities are not respected or realized.

There is a higher mortality rate among women and girls injured by explosive ordnance,
including landmines, as they are less likely to benefit from immediate first aid. They also
tend to have less access to rehabilitation services, work and school than boys and men. What are the objectives of Victim Assistance?

Victim Assistance is a mandatory provision of the Ottawa Treaty. Every State that joins the Treaty has a duty to assist victims through the implementation of specific activities or to financially support such activities.

The most important are emergency medical care, rehabilitation services – including the provision of prosthetics and orthotics, psychological support and facilitating people’s return to school, work and other aspects of social life.

The aim is to support the inclusion of survivors and other people with disabilities in society.

What challenges are involved in implementing Victim Assistance?

The majority of accidents occur in low-income countries where rehabilitation and other services are very scarce. Doctors and medical facilities tend to be located in cities, while survivors live in remote rural areas. Medical teams often have no proper training in amputation. The response by mental health and psychosocial support services tends to be insufficient when it comes to meeting mental health needs of survivors and indirect victims. 30% of casualties do not survive the accident through a lack of first aid. Training community - based volunteers in first aid can reduce this mortality rate to 10-12%.

Victim assistance must be life-long: a child who loses a leg in a landmine accident
at the age of four will need approximately 40 prosthetic legs in his or her lifetime.
In 2021, only 6% of the global financial contribution to humanitarian mine action
was assigned to victim assistance, while other humanitarian and development funding falls way short of ensuring that the necessary services are provided and societal barriers
reduced and ultimately removed. There are still 34 States Parties with significant numbers of landmine victim.

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To go further

 Increase of use of landmines driven by Russia, Myanmar and non-state armed groups Explosive weapons

Increase of use of landmines driven by Russia, Myanmar and non-state armed groups

The Landmine Monitor 2022 reports a high number of casualties caused by landmines - including improvised mines and explosive remnants of war - for the seventh year in a row. The Monitor recorded 5,544 casualties in 2021. 75% of them were civilians. This high figure is mainly the result of increased armed conflicts and contamination with improvised mines since 2015. The use of landmines by the Russian and Myanmar armies, as well as by non-state armed groups in five countries, are the main factors of a sharp global increase of the use of these weapons in 2022.

States will gather in Geneva from November 21th to 25th for the 20th annual Mine Ban Treaty conference. As we celebrate the 25 years of the Ottawa Treaty, HI urges States to pressure parties to conflict to end the use of these barbaric weapons and to support the funding of victims assistance that is shrinking despite growing needs and high casualty rates in recent years.

Read the full report.

80 States have made history by endorsing the international agreement against bombing on towns and cities
© G. Lordet / HI
Explosive weapons

80 States have made history by endorsing the international agreement against bombing on towns and cities

Acknowledging the devastating humanitarian consequences of bombing and shelling of towns and cities, 80 States adopted an international agreement to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, at the Dublin Conference on November 18, 2022.

The day I stepped on a mine, my fate was sealed
© J. M. Vargas / HI
Explosive weapons

The day I stepped on a mine, my fate was sealed

Marta Quintero has been part of HI’s demining operations in Colombia for seven years. She is working for the future of her country with an unerring determination born out of personal experience.