With the Conference of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in progress, nongovernmental organizations present at the meeting, including Handicap International, have spared no efforts to inform and to raise awareness about the disastrous humanitarian consequences of these weapons.
In keeping with this effort, Handicap International presented on Wednesday a 2011 report on landmine victim assistance. This study is part of a series of comprehensive reports about mines and explosive remnants of war published by Handicap International each year, attesting to the organization's expertise on the topic of landmines.
Based on the collection and analysis of 24 testimonies from landmine victims in three Cambodian provinces (Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap) polluted with landmines, this report, Victim Assistance in Cambodia: The Human Face of Survivors and their Needs for Assistance, gives voice to the survivors of these indiscriminate weapons. These men and women, who spoke of their lives before and after their respective tragedies, the difficulties they have encountered in obtaining employment or the new, and sometimes very painful, way in which they were treated. All of the victims spoke about their need of solidarity and the importance of victim assistance, from the help they receive immediately after the injury to rehabilitation, psychosocial support and social and professional inclusion. In addition, the respondents to the study also expressed the need for perceiving survivors as people, rather than victims.
Three of the landmine accident survivors were present Wednesday at the launch of the report in Phnom Penh, at which they spoke to an audience about their ordeal for the first time. With great courage and dignity, these survivors explained why they participated in the Handicap International study.
“I was fifteen when I walked on the plank that had an anti-personal mine buried under it,” said Sri Kea, one of the speakers. “I am 33 now, yet I cannot forget the trauma I went through. I was angry all the time after the accident. Although they never said much to my face, I knew they used to talk of my condition behind my back. They thought I was no good anymore for I couldn't help them bring income in the household.” The audience applauded Sri Kea for her bravery.