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Assisting the victims of a particular weapon system, or ‘Victim Assistance’ (VA), was first a part of a multilateral treaty in the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention . Subsequently, VA provisions were included in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on Cluster Munitions . Additionally, the 2008 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides an overarching framework for implementing VA in regards to survivors. Those states that have acceded to these treaties have the obligation to comply with their specific provisions. VA is regarded as one of the five “complementary groups of activities” or ‘pillars’ of mine action .
Meeting the short, medium and long-term needs of women, girls, boys and men who have been injured by Explosive Ordnance (EO) and addressing affected families and communities requires an holistic and integrated multi-sector approach. The vast majority of VA, including emergency and on-going medical care, rehabilitation, psychological and social support, facilitation of access to education and economic inclusion, is managed outside of the mine action sector, although the sector has important roles. VA thus needs to be provided in the broader context of humanitarian, development and human rights, including disability-inclusive efforts. This type of support is a national responsibility towards all people injured, and to those living with a disability or who are especially vulnerable for various reasons. This support should be delivered according to norms and standards that exist within, for example, the health, rehabilitation, disability, education, employment, social protection and rural development sectors.
VA requires a long-term commitment. As such, the ultimate responsibility to provide services for direct and indirect EO victims (see section 3 for definitions) rests with state entities such as ministries responsible for health, social affairs, education, labour and social protection.
Those states which are affected by EO contamination are at different stages in the process of developing the various institutions that feed into the multi-sector approach to VA. As such, the mine action sector can play a supportive role in assisting states as they develop the relevant, long-term national systems, procedures and processes required to support EO victims in an age, gender and disability-inclusive manner.
National Mine Action Authorities (NMAAs) and/or National Mine Action Centres (NMACs) and those who work under their governance need to remain cognisant of the needs and rights of EO victims as they deliver support to other pillars of mine action. In many cases efforts made in VA can contribute to other mine action activities and requirements. The collection, analysis and use of accurate sex, age and disability, disaggregated data (SADDD) on casualties helps inform prioritisation, as well as coordination and targetting of EO Risk Education, Non-Technical Survey (NTS) / Technical Survey (TS) / and Clearance is a good example of this.
While the main focus of the sector’s VA response should be directed towards strengthening the sustainability of national efforts to provide support to existing victims, as more land is released under the mine action programme, a steady and noticeable reduction in the number of EO victims must remain a primary objective of the mine action sector and an important indicator of its success.
The mine action sector, under the governance of the NMAA, is well placed, through its direct links with EO-affected communities, to gather information about victims and their needs, to provide information on relevant services and to refer them to the government body that is charged with providing the type of support that they require. The NMAA and/or the NMAC, through the lifecycle of a mine action programme, can play a role in monitoring and facilitating the ongoing, muti-sector efforts to address the needs of victims, and helping ensure the inclusion of EO survivors and indirect victims, and their views in the development of relevant national legislation and policy decisions.
This standard aims to provide a broad overview of VA-related efforts as a pillar of mine action and to provide guidance on the specific role played by mine action stakeholders.
*This is a draft document that has been accepted by the IMAS Review Board, it still needs to be accepted by the IMAS Steering Group and then formally approved by the UN Inter-agency Coordination Group – Mine Action.
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