The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) represented by Rigbe Gebrehawaria, Commissioner for Women, Children, Older Persons, and Disability Rights participated in The Third Global Conference on the Assistance to Victims of Anti-Personnel Landmines and Other Explosive Ordnance in Disability Rights Context in Cambodia from October 17 to 19, 2023.
The Global Conference emphasized the importance of integrating Victim Assistance efforts into national policies, plans, legal frameworks and efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Experts representing more than 50 nations and international and non-governmental organizations that work on victim assistance planning and coordination, mine action, social inclusion, health and mine survivors and disability rights participated in the conference.
Commissioner Rigbe highlighted the current situation and major issues related to victim assistance in Ethiopia during the panel discussion with the theme: “Victim Assistance: Beyond the World of Mine Action.” She spoke about Ethiopia being among the world’s ten most heavily mined countries, with significant numbers of landmines and unexploded ordnance scattered across various areas. According to the commissioner, these hazardous remnants result from internal and international armed conflicts, causing the death and disability of hundreds, including children. She added that this situation has led to internal displacement, making relocation, reintegration and the provision of humanitarian aid challenging.
The conference underscored challenges pertaining to the assistance of victims of antipersonnel mines and other explosive ordnance in the disability rights context including a gap in numbers and needs of survivors hindering proper intervention; limited access to health including emergency care to causalities, inadequate psychosocial supports and economic reintegration; little or no attention given to Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).
The Commissioner acknowledged positive developments in Ethiopia including the ratification of relevant international treaties, the opening of more rehabilitation facilities and the establishment of the National Rehabilitation Commission with the aim of assisting disarmed forces in promoting their successful transition to civilian life. Commissioner Rigbe emphasized the need for international cooperation, raising awareness on the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for Human rights-based interventions and urged the government of Ethiopia to ratify the Convention on Conventional Weapons as well as Cluster Munitions and Rights Based Approach to Victim Assistance.