17 April 2012

Progress being made on victim assistance - governments report - but more needs to be done

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.(Geneva, 17 April 2012) Under the Convention on Cluster Munitions victim assistance is not optional: all States Parties must provide physical and psychological rehabilitation and ensure the full social and economic inclusion of victims of the devastating effects of cluster bombs.Yesterday, Monday 16 April, at the intersessional meeting on the ban convention being held in Geneva, countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lao PDR, Croatia and Lebanon, where survivors of cluster bombs and other remnants of conflict are struggling to live with their injuries, gave updates on how they are living up to these obligations.Delegates from Lao PDR said that although numbers of victims had reduced thanks to efforts to teach people the danger of risky behavior, the numbers were still too high. Lebanese representatives said that more than 30% of all victims in their country are under 18. In Bosnia in Herzegovina, authorities are working with non-governmental organisations to improve the way information about cluster munition survivors in their country is gathered and used, and Uganda explained a programme it has put into place to help survivors and other people with disabilities improve their job prospects.This news was welcomed by the CMC, but much more needs to be done.In her statement to the conference Megan Burke, specialist on victim assistance for the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor said: "Nearly two years into the Vientiane Action Plan, some progress has been made, but, our research shows that much more must be done to fulfill the commitments that States Parties have made to victims. For example, the Convention calls on States Parties to closely consult with and actively involve cluster munition victims and their representative organizations in their work to implement the ban, and efforts in this area could be significantly improved. Survivors should be part of government delegations to international meetings and in all activities related to the convention. It remains the case that most survivors you see attending these meetings are here as a part of the Cluster Munition Coalition’s delegation. Since the Convention’s entry into force, just two states, Croatia and Bosnia in Herzegovina, have included survivors as members of their delegations to an international meeting of the Convention."