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Landmine survivors require assistance for life. Victims assistance is a term that refers to the care and rehabilitation provided for the immediate and long-term needs of mine survivors, their families, and mine-affected communities.

Social and emotional support among landmine survivors is one of the most important aspects of mine victim assistance. Survivors usually feel at ease with other survivors, which becomes an excellent moral support.

This assistance is guaranteed under the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Convention. Tragically, the majority of landmine victims live in countries where medical care is limited or non-existent. Article Six of the AP Mine Ban Convention states that "Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims and for mine awareness programmes."

There are a number of components of Victims Assistance, designed to help survivors not only heal, get artificial limbs, but also rejoin society. They are:

Emergency and continuing medical care, including first aid treatment, clean supplies and trained medical staff.

Physical rehabilitation, prostheses (artificial limbs) and assistive devices such as wheelchairs and crutches that are inexpensive, fit, are safe, durable and can be maintained locally.

Psychological and social support, employment and economic reintegration programs involving survivors in all levels of the decision making process.

Reintegration into society, helping survivors adjust to an entirely new lifestyle after they have sustained their injuries.

Many very young children do not survive from intense landmine blasts, because their bodies are too small to overcome the shock, pain, and injury.
In mine-affected countries, the groups generally most at risk for mine injuries are the poorest members of society. Their daily tasks routinely put them in harm’s way. For example, as peasants collect firewood and food, herd cattle, or cultivate their fields, they often pass through mine-contaminated land. Shepherds travel through mined areas while following their flocks to remote areas in search of new grazing land. Children are at great risk as they carry out any of these tasks or as they play, leaving safe paths to explore new areas. In 2000, the ICRC issued 16,442 prosthetics to war-wounded people across twenty-five countries, and more than half were landmine victims. However, an actual figure of landmine victims is unknown, because many people never get medical treatment at health centers. These victims never receive prosthetics and are therefore not officially registered.

An estimated 300,000 mine survivor amputees live in developing (poorer) countries
. In Cambodia, for instance, one person out of 236 is an amputee. In these developing countries, adequate first aid is not readily available and health care centers frequently lack sufficient stocks of medication and good surgical instruments. Furthermore, these countries do not have the money to pay for survivor assistance and rehabilitation programs. This funding shortage is due to a combination of weak economies, a lack of resources and adequate infrastructures, and the often held view that extensive long-term survivor assistance programs are not necessary.

The United Nations works with governments to develop victim assistance programs and standards. They all work closely with partner organisations outside the United Nations system, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF), Handicap International (HI) and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF).


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