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Assisting the victims of a particular weapon system, or victim assistance (VA), was first included in the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) . Subsequently, VA provisions were included in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) . Additionally, the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides an overarching framework for implementing VA in regard to survivors . States that have ratified or 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 persons who have been injured by explosive ordnance (EO) and have suffered physical, mental and/or sensory trauma as a result, whilst also addressing affected families and communities, requires a rights based holistic and integrated multi-sector approach. The vast majority of VA, including emergency and ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, psychological and social support, facilitation of access to education social and economic inclusion, and related laws and policies, is managed outside of the mine action sector, although the sector provides important linkages. This support should be delivered according to norms and standards that exist within the health, rehabilitation, disability, education, employment, social protection and development sectors . Because of the multifaceted and complex needs of victims, much of the mine action sector’s role includes identification and referral to the appropriate authorities and institutions. VA is a national responsibility towards all people who have been injured, and to those living with a disability or who are especially vulnerable for other relevant reasons.
VA requires a long-term commitment. As such, the ultimate responsibility to provide services for direct and indirect victims (see Clause 3 for definitions) rests with State entities such as ministries responsible for health, social affairs, education, labour, human rights and social protection.
States which are affected by EO contamination are at different stages in developing the various institutions that feed into the multi-sector approach to VA. As such, the mine action sector plays a supportive role through specific VA efforts in assisting the entities responsible as they develop the relevant, long-term national systems, procedures and processes required to support victims in an age, gender and disability-inclusive manner .
National mine action authorities (NMAAs), national mine action centres (NMACs) and those who work under their governance need to remain aware of the needs and rights of victims, and the role of their representative organizations. In many cases, efforts made in VA can contribute to other mine action activities and requirements. For example, the collection, analysis and use of accurate sex, age and disability disaggregated data (SADDD) on casualties can help to inform prioritization of non-technical survey (NTS), technical survey (TS), and clearance, as well as coordination and targeting of EO risk education. ,
As more land is released under the mine action programme, it is relevant for the sector’s VA response to focus on strengthening the sustainability of national efforts to provide support to victims Yet, a steady and noticeable reduction in the number of new victims remains its primary objective and an important indicator of its success.
Through its direct links with EO-affected communities, the mine action sector, under the governance of the NMAA, is well placed to:
gather information about victims and their needs and challenges;
provide information on relevant services; and
refer them to the government body and/or service provider that is charged with providing the type of support that they require.
Through the lifecycle of a mine action programme, the NMAA and/or NMAC can play a role in understanding, promoting and, where possible, facilitating the ongoing multi-sector efforts, including intersectoral coordination, to address the needs of survivors and indirect victims. In this way, the NMAA can proactively play its part in helping to ensure that survivors’ legal right to active inclusion in the development of relevant national legislation and policy decisions is upheld.
This standard aims to provide a broad overview of VA specific efforts as a pillar of mine action and to provide guidance on the specific roles played by mine action actors.
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