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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 (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 regards to survivors. Those 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 women, girls, boys and men 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 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 social and economic inclusion, and related laws and policies, is managed outside of the mine action sector, although the sector has important links. This support should be delivered according to norms and standards that exist within the health, rehabilitation, disability, education, employment, social protection and rural development sectors. Owing to 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. Victim assistance 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 reasons.
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, human rights 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 through specific VA efforts in assisting the entities responsible 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 National Mine Action Centres (NMACs) and those who work under their governance need to remain cognisant of the needs and rights of EO victims and the role of their representative organizations. In many cases efforts made in VA can contribute to other mine action activities and requirements, as when the collection, analysis and use of accurate sex, age and disability disaggregated data (SADDD) on casualties helps inform prioritisation of Non-Technical Survey (NTS), Technical Survey (TS), and Clearance, as well as coordination and targetting of EO Risk Education.
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 new 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, understanding and where possible facilitating the ongoing, muti-sector efforts, including intersectoral coordination, to address the needs of EO survivors and indirect victims. In this way, the NMAA can proactively play its part in helping to ensure that EO 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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