Urgent action is needed to protect civilians from explosive weapons, especially in Syria where 2 million children are at risk. All too often amputees and other injured people struggle to get proper rehabilitation care and can end up isolated and forgotten. The UK should take the lead by committing to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“The over-cautiousness of certain States Parties when it comes to systematically condemning new uses of cluster munitions risks reducing the scope of the treaty and gives the impression that non-States Parties can use these weapons with total impunity. This is unacceptable”
“Because of their blast or fragmentation effects, explosive weapons kill or cause complex injuries. The widespread use of explosive weapons, combined with the lack of appropriate surgical care in Syria, has a devastating impact on people’s lives. When injuries are not properly treated, it is likely that the patient will not fully recover and will develop long term impairments. With more than one million war-wounded in Syria, this is an entire generation who will suffer the consequences of these weapons.”
“Handicap International has built up a lot of expertise in meeting the specific needs of vulnerable people, like disabled and older people - anyone who struggles to access to aid distributions under these sorts of circumstances. This is our main focus in an emergency. We are providing medical care and assistive devices like orthoses and wheelchairs to injured people. We’re also focusing our immediate response on logistics - organising tents, preparing transport for equipment, food, etc.”
“Hospitals are overwhelmed, and are short of staff and medical supplies. With roads blocked and difficult or interrupted communications, the situation is particularly problematic for remote villages.
There is widespread panic in Tacloban. Following Typhoon Haiyan which hit a year ago, killing over 6,000 people and affecting 15 million individuals, the population is traumatised.
People living in or returning to areas affected by fighting are at serious risk of death or injury, especially children. That’s why we’re calling on the UK to take action now, before it’s too late.
Used in populated areas, explosive weapons kill and maim men, women and children indiscriminately. That’s unacceptable.
Restrictions on access to humanitarian assistance are a violation of international humanitarian law and are having a serious impact on people with injuries and vulnerable individuals.
In the very short term, people with these injuries require immediate and adequate care to avoid developing permanent disabilities or even putting the victim’s life in danger.
“There's a huge ratio of injuries leading to amputation. And there's a huge ratio of spinal cord injuries, generally related to gunshots or shelling. It’s approximately double what we are used to seeing in other crises. It’s a highly disabling crisis.
With 50 pumps we will be able to provide safe drinking water for over 50,000 people every day. This will make an immediate impact for all those people currently suffering from the lack of water.
When nothing is left standing and the local infrastructure has been destroyed, people with disabilities, older people and children are particularly vulnerable. We absolutely have to supply them with relief.
Hospitals are at breaking point, there is a serious lack of accommodation, and the quite exceptional solidarity shown by the inhabitants of the host countries may well reach its limits if the international community does not provide an appropriate response to the situation.
This situation is totally unacceptable. The report clearly shows that children with disabilities receive an extremely poor level of care in developing countries. But it’s difficult to improve the situation because we currently don’t have the funds to do so.
Due to the intensity of the violence in Syria and widespread contamination by mines and unexploded devices, there is a desperate need for weapons clearance and risk education.
It is clear that diplomatic pressure on all sides of the conflict has not prevented civilians from being deliberately targeted, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and sometimes with indescribable cruelty.
As a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Obama has the moral responsibility to take a firm stand against landmines.
We must not let up to ensure the founding principle of a world without landmines does not just remain a utopian vision but a concrete reality. State Parties must not give up on the final objective: to return a land free of mines to civilian populations.
Many people believe that the international treaties banning landmines and cluster bombs have consigned these indiscriminate weapons to history. But landmines and cluster bombs are still claiming one new victim on average every two hours, the overwhelming majority of whom are civilians going about their daily lives.
Cluster munitions appear to have been used repeatedly and on a massive scale over the course of several months. Governments urgently need to put pressure on Syria to stop using these weapons.
We continue to take action in the name of solidarity, to provide tangible, practical, viable solutions which take communities and community solidarity into account. This community solidarity has never failed: In every culture, at every point on the globe, families never give up. It is our duty, our responsibility to follow their example.
“Today’s report reminds us that there are between 20,000 and 54,000 cluster munition victims. The survivors need life-long assistance, access to care and support achieving socio-economic inclusion. Their families and communities also need help. The situation is all the more alarming given that 94% of cluster munition victims are civilians, 40% of whom are children.”
“We owe a lot of our success to this extreme situation. The need for action was really obvious to everyone: that’s why the service we provided was seen as extremely effective.”
As we gear up to the International Day of Peace this September, I was shocked to learn that there are still more than 100 million landmines laid across the world. So we are delighted to be working with Handicap International UK, an organisation bold enough to reengage youth in this serious and forgotten issue.
One third of victims are young people, and that’s why we’re taking action to remind young people here in the UK that this terrible threat has not gone away.
“However cluster bombs are funded, their impact is the same: they kill and maim innocent men, women and children, with civilians representing a staggering 98% of recorded casualties. Direct investment in cluster bomb production is already illegal under UK law, so how is it acceptable to hold shares in companies that produce these vicious weapons?”
It is no coincidence that many of the world’s poorest countries are also those worst-affected by landmines. In addition to the terrible suffering they inflict on their victims, mines are a major obstacle to social and economic development.
Prevention work is vital in the current context, in order to save lives and stop the already dramatic loss of human life from escalating in the weeks to come.
This new funding means that we can provide vital emergency support even faster, making a critical difference in terms of saving lives and reducing the suffering of people affected, including people with disabilities.
During crises, NGOs should place a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable sections of the population because they find it extremely difficult to access humanitarian aid.
After the fighting ends, the first thing people want to do is to return home, even though their neighbourhoods have been bombed and mined. As a result, many civilians unwittingly put themselves at risk.
“The Haitian people are just beginning to turn the page after the 2010 earthquake, but there is still a huge amount of work left to do,” stresses Benoît Aurenche, Handicap International’s Project Manager in Haiti. Benoît was in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit and has carried out a series of missions in the country over the last two years. “The emergency humanitarian response was essential, a much needed sticking plaster. Today, it is vital that the focus shifts to development actions. The Haitian people are extremely concerned about what is going to happen next.”