Sun, 11/05/2023

UGANDA@ Phnom Penh

File photo:  Brig. General Kazahura alongside the Director, National Institute of Social Affairs, Cambodia, and conference colleague, Ms Nampeera from Ministry of Gender, and extreme left in blue, a Ugandan student at the Institute.

The 3rd Global Conference on Victim Assistance of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention took place in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, 17-19 October 2023. It was hosted through the Cambodia Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority as a follow-up to the first and second Global conferences on victim Assistance that took place in Colombia, 2014 and in Jordan, 2019 respectively.  Victim Assistance is a state obligation to provide assistance for the care, rehabilitation, and social-economic integration of mine victims i.e., to victims affected by explosions of landmines that were left after the end of conflicts, maimed people's limbs and deprived them of their physical ability to fend for their livelihoods. The term ‘victim’ refers to persons either individually or collectively, who have suffered physical, emotional, and psychological injury, economic loss, or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights through acts or omissions related to the use of anti-personnel mines and other explosive ordinance or explosive remnants of war. Victims therefore include people injured and killed as well as families and communities affected by these weapons.

The purpose of the 3rd Global Conference on Victim Assistance was to measure the extent to which states’ parties had achieved in implementing Victim Assistance globally in order to raise the level of integrating victims of these weapons equitably into society as a human right without discrimination as those not affected by the weapons.   Cambodia suffered the brunt of war in the 80s and the effects of the land mines had a high toll on her population. Cambodia has been supported to demine, destroy landmines, and reclaimed thousands of agricultural lands that had been impeded by hazardous weapons thereby providing the capital asset for improving the lives of the many thousands of landmine victims.

Uganda was represented by Brigadier General Emmanuel Kazahura, Chair of the Victim Assistance Committee of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention of the 21st Meeting of States Parties of Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention for the year 2023, on behalf of the Ugandan Embassy and Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ms Agnes Nampeera, Principal Rehabilitation Officer and Focal Point for Community Based Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Other Ugandan Delegates included Ms. Margaret Arech of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Uganda Chapter and Mr. Alex Munyambabazi of peer VA Groups and also an amputee.

Many lessons were drawn from the conference and more particularly from the National Institute of Social Affairs in Cambodia which makes Assistive Technology, and prosthetics for the victims of landmines and other PWDS. The institute also trains engineers involved in producing and repairing prosthetics. It also fixes them on the mine victims.  One Ugandan in his third year, is undergoing the four-year course at the institution.

Uganda’s involvement in improving the lives of landmine victims at the national and global level has been hailed and is called upon to host the 4th Global Conference on Victim Assistance in 2028.