This summer marks the first time that The Advocacy Project (AP) office in Washington, D.C. has collaborated with the Landmine Survivors Network/Survivor Corps office to send AP peace fellows into seven countries where the Network is active: Jordan, El Salvador, Colombia, Uganda, Vietnam, Bosnia and of course here in Ethiopia. It is truly a privilege to be a part of such a collaborative global peace and advocacy effort.
There are three main focus areas of the LSN Addis Ababa office:
1. Health, especially focused on ensuring access to medical care and physical rehabilitations services.
2. Economic Opportunity, with an emhasis on empowering the survivors through vocational trainings and access to microfinance funds for small businesses and projects. This sector is crucial as a lack of job opportunities in a country with a high unemployment rate complicate matters signficantly.
3. Social Empowerement, focusing on social therapy, social activities and networking, and community building.
Most of this work occurrs within the Addis Ababa area, with 10 “sub-cities” around the urban core making up the target groups. Eventually, I will be accompanying the outreach workers when they venture out into the sub-cities to visit the survivors in their homes and communities. That will no doubt put a deeper perspective on the importance of the Network’s work.
The actual landmine situation in the country is complex, but the vast majority of mines in the ground are along the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), in the regions of Tigray and Afar, where the conflict with Eritrea (1998-2000) wreaked havoc on the border regions and the economies of both nations. There are also significant mined zones in Somali, the region that borders Somalia.
In terms of persons living with disability, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates there are approximately 380,000 people with disabilities in need of physical rehabilitation; with 25,000 of these being conflict victims (ICRC Annual Report, 2006).
Clearly, in a country that has faced many years of drought, famine and development challenges, providing the necessary resources for landmine victim assistance remains problematic. However, we must consider that the recent scandals over the conditions of returned soldiers in the United States at the Walter Reed hospital, speak loudly about the difficulties that rich countries face in the area of victim assistance as well. It’s important to keep that in perspective when comparing and contrasting the different global contexts of victim assistance and conflict survivors.
Thanks to the Landmine Monitor Report 2007 for excellent research on the landmine status in all affected countries and Ethiopia in particular.
For more on Survivor Corps and their excellent programs/projects, click here.
Posted By Lucas Wolf
Posted Jul 3rd, 2008