Kirsten Young, Landmine Survivors Network
Presentation on Continuing Mine Action after Clearance is Complete: Survivor Assistance, How do we ensure mine survivors and their families are receiving the care and treatment as well as the job skills to re-enter society?
Thank you for the opportunity, and we are delighted that Victim Assistance is a priority for the MASG.
To respond to the question of this thematic discussion: "How do we ensure mine survivors and their families are receiving the care and assistance as well as the job skills to re-enter society", I would like to discuss three issues:
1. Our perspective as an NGO implementer
I thought I would start off by telling you about a very Hollywood movie I recently saw, a movie that seems to be making headlines. But that is not why I want to tell you about it.
In this movie one main character said to another:
"You Americans love to talk about your feelings don't you?"
I thought this was very funny because it reminded me of a conversation I had with Jerry White the co-founder of LSN shortly after the euphoria of the Mine Ban Treaty adoption had died down when we were discussing implementation. Jerry was explaining to me the concept of peer support. For me, someone from a non-US culture this meant precisely what the main character in the movie was referring to "talking about your feelings." I thought this would be more than a challenge to translate into other cultures and contexts as the LSN co-founders envisioned.
Move the clock forward and LSN now operates in most regions of the world, either through field offices or partnerships. 10 years experience shows us that this model changes survivors lives whether they are from Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Asia or Europe.
Those survivors are represented in the photos you see. What these photos show is the reality of regular people doing regular things. And this is precisely what the LSN programme seeks to do: create an environment where regular people who are survivors get to do regular things. Nothing mysterious, just life.
With peer support as the foundation, LSN programme has three components: Health, Economic Opportunity, and Rights Advocacy. We work with individuals, organizations, and governments to meet this objective.
The support groups are interesting as they are peer support in a larger setting, rather than traditional one-to-one. They are mechanisms for information sharing, skill-building, collective training, and peer mentoring.
An example is Ethiopia, supported 10 groups, totaling 380 survivors. One example that one group has undertaken is to provide the equivalent of $2.00 to amputee beggars to start super micro businesses (such as selling chewing gum). These support groups are registering as associations, which builds the sort of confidence one can get by being recognized formally by the government.
These groups also do advocacy. One group is currently lobbying to a building code change to improve accessibility.
Disability Rights Convention
As was mentioned in the MASG December newsletter, the Convention opens for signature on 30th March. Most of the MASG countries were consistently active and contributing participants to the final text. And as many of you know, the process was unique for the unprecedented participation of civil society, embodied in the principle of "nothing about us without us".
We have come very far in understanding what Victim Assistance means our work. What the Disability Rights Convention does is both complement that and supplement it. It complements by providing a disability framework for survivor assistance. It supplements by creating a rights framework for survivor assistance.
If we take a quick tour of the Convention, there are many elements that will contribute to survivor assistance, for example, peer support, mobility aids/devices, accessibility, work/employment, comprehensive rehabilitation, inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes. This is all familiar language, but it is importantly ground in a legal framework and accordingly creates legal obligations.
The Convention also outlines implementation measures and mechanisms. It is the first human right convention to have provisions on national level monitoring and implementation. These include coordination, which is essential for there to be a comprehensive approach to disability, a focal point, so that there is always some who is ultimately responsible for the decisions made, and the follow up of those decisions; and an independent national mechanism, such as a human rights commission, as well as civil society participation. In addition, there is the classic international level monitoring by independent experts, which include experts with disabilities.
Conclusion: Recommendations to Donors
I would like to conclude with some suggestions about what you as donors can do to ensure the inclusion of survivors in society: