VICTIM ASSISTANCE

Victim assistance is enshrined in the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty and on the Convention on Cluster Munitions as an essential aspect of mine action. The victim assistance framework in Cambodia is thus made up of components of Treaties focusing on victim assistance, including the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (UNCRPD) which plays a fundamental role in the creation of Cambodia’s National Strategic Plan on Disability.

The CMAA coordinates with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSAVY) to better integrate activities with the Government’s overall victim assistance efforts. Meanwhile, the Disability Action Council (DAC), the national focal point on disability issues, provides technical support to the MoSAVY and coordinates services for PWDs.

CMAA raises awareness about landmine/ERW victims’ needs and ensures their inclusion in national disability plans and services. CMAA also assisted the Government in ratifying the UNCRPD and in formulating rules and regulations to effectively implement the Law on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of People with Disability in Cambodia.

Quality of Life Survey

In 2012, CMAA collaborated with various organizations to determine the quality of life of landmine/ERW survivors in Cambodia. Structured interviews were conducted with 3,448 individuals in 393 villages. In summary, data showed that less than half of the people surveyed had ID cards or health cards, a set-back in availing public health and social services. On the other hand, about half of the respondents stated they had enough food to eat, were employed or were aware of human rights and disability rights. Most of the respondents claimed to have at least a place to live but less than half possessed land titles. A majority stated they had access to a health center and were able to attend local community social events.

Further, some of the key results from the survey showed:

  • About 99% who have loans were able to repay their loans;
  • 60% described themselves as having a job, ¾ of which were self-employed through farming, small business/trade, fishing, and lumber. The remaining 40% claimed to have no access to income-generating opportunities;
  • About a quarter of the respondents receive government pensions;
  • 1,350 of the respondents have some form of prosthetic (196 people have wheelchairs, 197 have crutches);
  • 1,523 respondents stated their children are going to school; and
  • About 2/3 of those surveyed were married.

The quality of life survey (QLS) supported by the Norwegian government, was spearheaded by the Cambodia Survivor Network, led by the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCBL) and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), in collaboration with the Arrupe Centre and individual PWDs. The QLS’s village-focused approach – led by survivors in dialogue with leaders and community members – significantly contributes to the National Strategic Plan for Disability and encourages adherence to international treaties such as the UNCRPD.

Download the full report – Quality of Life Survey 2012 (PDF)

Report on Living Conditions of Ex-deminers
The assessment on the living conditions of ex-deminers who had accidents while performing their demining duties began from May 2014 to July 2014 with technical and financial support from UNICEF and the officials from CMAA, MoSVY, ILDO and OEC and Mine Survivor Networks have conducted this study.
 
Based on the list of accidents provided from CMAA and demining operators, the team planned to conduct survey in 72 villages, 54 communes, 33 districts of the 13 municipality/provinces. As a result, the team members interviewed directly with 56 (60.22%) of the victims and their spouses, parents, children and/or the relatives of the victims and this accounts for 37 (39.78%) of the total victims. The following are main findings:
  Download the full report – Living Conditions of Ex-deminers-English  (PDF)Khmer (PDF)
Interactive map of NGOs
The QLS on landmine/ERW survivor including persons with disabilities is on the progress and faces a challenge on engaging the community’s leader and concern parties to take response for advice to mine survivor and other person with disability and their family to access to the appropriate services available in Cambodia.
 
CMAA collaborating with Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmine (CCBL) along the Survivor Network Project start to develop form an interactive map of government institute and NGOs based social services for mine victim and disability assistance in Cambodia. Service mapping tools provided base on the six(6) components of National Plan of Action on Person with Disability including landmine/ERW survivor: Legislation and public policies, Physical and functional rehabilitation, Emergency and continuing medical care, Psychological support and social re-integration/inclusion, Economic re-integration/inclusion, Understanding the Extent of the Challenges.
 
The objectives of mapping service are to:
  • Promote services available for mine victim and disability
  • Compile information and disseminate to local authorities, survivor network and  mine victims at QLS targeted
  • Engage the community to take care to the needs of vulnerable mine victims
  • Participation of victims of mines to increase the quality of living for themselves and their friends to become more active
As the monitoring role, CMAA have framework to advice to mine victims in order to access appropriate services.
 
It’s amazing that the positive results of our initiative have already appeared during the process of QLS when we met with landmine survivor who’s struggle to access the service for his wheelchair physiotherapy. Let us give you just one example story from the field.
 
Tit Hour, 33, from Khes Svay village of Siem Bouk district in Stung Treng province, had physical movement and assistive device issues after his recover from mine accident, but he didn't know who he could approach even the village leader. His friend advised him to buy wheelchair from neighbor country as he got that wheelchair with wrong size Mr. Hour said "I have enough money to pay my services if need”, We found his wheelchair is not suitable for him, His feet may walk again if he gets proper physiotherapy in physical rehabilitation center. But he did not know where to find physical rehabilitation centers. We recommend him to some centers that may he need to check.
 
So the mapping is also about networking social service providers, isn't it? They will be among frequent users of the map. Networking of social services providers at the stage of prototyping the map have also resulted in experience sharing among them.
 
The prototype will soon be developed into a fully functional map to include information on social services providers–both non-governmental and governmental. The map is on the official website of CMAA, where any user can share his or her feedback. Stay tuned for updates!
 
Survivor’s story "Notes from the field"
 
The Story of Phum, landmine survivor
"My village was not a safe place to farm or live in,” says 47-year old Shay Phum, a landmine survivor born in a remote village in Cambodia. From the 1960s to the late 1990s, Cambodia was racked in domestic conflict, famously with the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70s, as well as regional conflict that rendered it one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
 
Phum hails from the northwestern province of Battambang bordering southern Thailand where the Khmer Rouge were eventually driven out by Cambodian forces. To prevent insurgents from infiltrating back into the country, the Cambodian government built a 1,046 km heavily mined blockade known as the K5 mine belt. Much of the landmines remain to these days and are still capable of harming or killing an unsuspecting victim. K5 ranks among the most densely contaminated land in the world, with up to 2,400 mines per linear kilometer.
 
"Most of the schools were destroyed. Roads were inaccessible or lain with landmines and other explosive devices,” Phum recounts. Due to insecurity and dwindling household food supply, then 17-years old boy was forced to leave school and work. "[The land] became a frontline of the battlefield. The living conditions of my family and other villagers became more and more difficult,” he says.
 
In 1987, Phum’s life changed when his family moved to a refugee camp near the O’lahoung river. While mining precious stones with other villagers, he and his friends were abducted by Khmer Rouge soldiers. "I became a soldier in the 22nd regiment and was sent as frontline conscript in the jungle,” he recounts. "During the fighting, I stepped on an anti-personnel mine.” Medics carried him on a hammock to safety. It took them five days to reach a hospital.
 
"Without proper treatment during that long journey, my leg was in very bad condition,” he says. His leg was amputated, taking him six months to recover.
 
Despite his disability, Phum continued to serve in the armed forces after the Cambodian government started integrating Khmer Rouge elements into the military as part of reconciliatory efforts to re-build the country. He served in the 17th company of the 55th battalion of the Aou-roth-crosh hospital in Samlot district, 338 km north of the capital Phnom Penh.
 
In 2000, he was finally declared integrated and was given veteran status. In the same year, he and his family moved to a remote area in Phay village which was still heavily contaminated with landmines. "Nothing comes easy when you fear living and working in a former battlefield that is still a danger zone,” he says.
 
The following year, through the Cambodian government and its development partners’ efforts, he was granted 1,600 m2 of land that had been cleared of landmines. The area is safe for his family to live in and plant crops.
 
The government, through the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) has been working to clear landmines, exploded remnants of war (ERWs) and other unexploded ordinances (UXOs) throughout Cambodia. The United Nations Development Programme and the Governments of Canada, Australia, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have been supporting the CMAA since 2006 through the Clearing for Results II (CFR II) project.
 
The US$ 25 million project, now on its second phase, has helped remove landmines and release about 83 sq km of land in the three most heavily affected provinces, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin. CFR II has also contributed to the overall decline of reported landmine casualties in the country, from 132 cases in 2006 to only 13 in 2013.
 
Moreover, almost half a million Cambodians stand to reap the benefits of living fearlessly and productively on mine-free land. Post-clearance monitoring of the land cleared in 2011 showed that almost 80% of the land is being used for agriculture, while the rest are being used for infrastructure such as housing, roads, irrigation, schools and pagodas.
 
Phum is one such beneficiary. "I believe that economic empowerment is the best way for survivors and villagers to overcome feelings of inferiority and create independent lives for themselves,” he reflects.
 
The Cambodian government reports that around 4-6 million mines, ERWs, and UXOs remain on Cambodian soil. According to the Cambodia National Mine Action Strategy, the government will need around US$ 455 million to finish clearing and destroying these by 2019.
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AUTHOR’S PROFILE
Contact Information/bio:
 
sigle-photo Mr.Chanthorn Laiy
 General coordination and Communication officer CMAA-VAD
 E: Chanthornlaiy@yahoo.com
 
 I am a landmine/ERW survivor who survive from mine exploded in 1990 at the battle field during the civil war. I have about twenty years’ working experience on disability sector and victim assistance as well as mine action since 1994 through LNGOs and CMAA, I recently travel a lot to grass-root levels within the country with support from UNDP Clearing for Results II project beside CMAA and CCBL’s collaboration to conduct the Quality of Life Survey of landmine/ERW survivors to develop the mine victim database, the data compiled will inform the new National Disability Strategic Plan 2014-2018. The survey also revealed some key issue for consideration by local authority and relevant stakeholders to take action more deeply at the village level where change happen.