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Victim Assistance

Hospital scene. Photograph provided by UNMAS. Miriam Helawi. Photograph provided by UNMAS.

Introduction – The Challenge

"Without proper support, survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war may face a lifetime of poverty and discrimination, lacking adequate health care or rehabilitation services. Member States, civil society and the United Nations must strive to foster the legislative, social and economic conditions that enable survivors to realize their rights and be productive members of society." Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General, 4 April: International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2008

Around the world thousands of people are victims of explosive remnants of war (ERW). According to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor 2010, the explosive device that caused the most casualties in 2009 was ERW (not including submunitions) with 1,044 victims. This represents 35% of new victims from incidents with explosive devices.

For the first time in Protocol V, States Parties to the CCW recognized the importance of assisting the victims of the weapon being addressed. States Parties to Protocol V in Article 8(2) committed to the following:

Each High Contracting Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration of victims of explosive remnants of war. Such assistance may be provided inter alia through the United Nations system, relevant international, regional or national organizations or institutions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and their International Federation, non-governmental organizations, or on a bilateral basis.

Victims of ERW can face major and multiple challenges. These include difficulties in accessing emergency, medical, rehabilitative and psychological care, often requiring intensive and long term care from health systems which are under considerable stress; struggling to reintegrate socially and economically; and simply having their rights and autonomy either ignored or deliberately denied.