Posts Tagged ‘Landminen’

Kaschmir: Landminen-Opfer

Donnerstag, August 8th, 2013

“The Wounded Women Of Kashmir

Largely ignored in post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Jammu and Kashmir by the government, many women severely affected by conflict have been fighting a tough battle for existence

By Ashutosh Sharma | 08 August, 2013

The life out of her village does not exist for Parveen Akhtar —who lives in a mud house perched atop a hillock, nestled in an undulating forest area of Banmat, a small village tucked away in the mountainous border district Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir—for about 8 years.

On a usual afternoon, Parveen (38) was busy collecting firewood in the forest nearby. She unwittingly footed a hidden anti-personnel mine and within no time lost her leg in a powerful explosion. Since then she has not been able to move as freely as she used to.

There are many such survivors including Gulaab Jaan from Shahpur, Razia Bi from Qasba, Hakim Bi from Salotri and Kanta Devi from Haveli in the border villages of Poonch—where horror of stray landmines and unexploded ordnance stalks the villagers. All of them have been endlessly waiting for compensation amount from the government hoping that the token money might solve some of their problems.

After losing a limb, the normal work routine did not change for these women, though surely their miseries have multiplied. They tend to children, assist in fields and look after cattle. And worst, they consider themselves ‘a burden’ on their families—an inevitable psychological ghost that stays with them after losing limbs.

Those who don’t have any alternative sustainable source of income have been compelled into beggary. One such victim, Fatima Jaan (40) from Guntrian, a village located at the Line of Control (LoC), heads out to district headquarter Poonch for begging on routine basis. She treks for nearly four kilometres and then boards a bus to reach her work station after feeding her children and sending them to school.

Fatima was grazing her cow near the house when she unknowingly triggered a landmine. She does not recall the year of the incident but says with certainty that “it happened some years after my marriage”.

A few years after losing her leg she lost her husband also. “My husband, Noor Mohammad, went missing after he was taken by some Army personnel in 1998. No one ever saw or heard of him after that time.”

“A year after my husband disappeared, I started begging here. It has been 13 years now,” she says. Then, as she looks at her amputated leg, she breaks down into loud sobs. Asked why she comes so far to beg and she replies, “If I beg in my area it is likely to bring disrepute to the family’s name. In a few years I will also have to arrange for the marriage of my daughters.”

Her case was taken up with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) by a noted local activist, Kamaljeet Singh. Taking cognisance of her difficult situation, the SHRC in its final judgment of April 2011, recommended that the government provide suitable financial assistance to her without delay. This recommendation has not been followed up.

After being maimed, widowed or affected by conflict in some other unfortunate way, these women have not been able to access health care or benefits of government schemes. Their life is miserable in the absence of state protection.

In the border village of Pukharni in Nowshera sector in Rajouri, another amputee Safia Begum (35) is battling her disability. Under a cloudless and shimmering sky, in the dusty courtyard of her mud house, she is busy working in the makeshift kitchen. She kneads dough and then expertly makes rotis on an earthen ‘chulha’ (stove) – and she does it all, literally, single handedly. Safia lost her left hand to a landmine blast when she was just six. The same tragedy revisited her in 2011 when her eight year old son also lost a hand to landmine explosion near home.

“Besides a little bit of farming, my husband and I do various menial jobs to sustain the family,” she says. In the same village, there are women like Naseem Akhtar, 23, and Sharifa Begum, 22, both of whom lost one of their legs as children in separate landmine blasts near their homes. They now stitch clothes for survival and are worried about the future.

Gulkhar, a widow and mother of six daughters, lost three buffaloes – the only family asset and source of income – when the cattle wandered over to a landmined pasture in a village near the LoC in the Bala Kote area of Poonch district last October.

“Despite reporting the matter to the local administration, I haven’t got any relief yet,” complains Gulkhar, whose family ironically is categorised as Above Poverty Line (APL), as a result of which she does not get a widow’s pension. Normally, widows get a monthly pension of Rs 200 whereas those who are above 64 years or fall in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category are given a monthly pension of Rs 400 by the government.

“Most of our land is infested with mines; the rest is rocky and arid. Only a small portion is cultivable,” she says. These days, there is one question that keeps haunting her: “How will I marry my daughters? After losing our livestock we don’t have any source of income.”

Gulkhar also talks about Razia Bi, 65, and Sakina Bi, 65, who are her neighbours in the village. “Razia and Sakina lost their husbands to shelling from across the border. Neither of them received any financial assistance from the government. Their families are also facing severe economic hardships,” she reveals.

Monetary compensation to landmine victims, provided by the Ministry of Defence, is given only after the cases are processed on the recommendation of the District Development Commissioner. But the process of compensation is believed to be too complicated to give timely and required benefit to the victims.

A disabled person normally gets a monthly pension of Rs 400 from the state’s social welfare department—in many cases even this paltry amount is not grated to them for various reasons.

Despite their lives being entwined with stigma, discrimination and isolation, these women have been courageously struggling to put their life together yet it remains to be seen how long the government takes in fulfilling its obligations towards them!

(The writer is a media fellow with National Foundation for India and can be reached at bulawaa@gmail.com) “

 

(Quelle: Countercurrents.org)

Sri Lanka: Rückkehrende Flüchtlinge durch Landminen bedroht

Montag, Juni 14th, 2010

“SRI LANKA: Returning IDPs face lack of clean water, landmine threat

KILINOCHCHI, 11 June 2010 (IRIN) – Thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) returning home from camps in northern Sri Lanka are concerned about access to potable water and slow progress in clearing landmines.

Since the government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009, more than 170,000 of 280,000 people displaced by the violence have returned to the 7,650 sq km Vanni region, which includes the Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya districts and has a population of about 700,000.

Some resettled residents in Kilinochchi say they have difficulties accessing clean water and sanitation.

‘I have to walk over a mile to reach a clean water supply. I have shell shrapnel in my body. Walking just 100m exhausts [me],’ said Rasiah Gunanandan, 58, from Kilinochchi.

‘Lack of access to proper water and sanitation hinders the normality of our lifestyles. It affects many aspects of day-to-day life,’ added father-of-three Gunanandan. ‘Many of us dig random holes for our toilet needs. I am hoping the situation will get better as time goes on.’

But Hemantha Herath, a senior official from the Ministry of Health in Colombo, the country’s capital, insisted access to potable water was not a major concern.

‘People can get water either from wells or from streams,’ he said.

A number of ‘health education programmes are being conducted and health volunteers have been trained to educate people to ensure the quality and the safety of drinking water’, added Herath.

This process will continue until piped water reaches all families, he said.

A water tower in Kilinochchi destroyed during the war ‘On the other hand, people are finding it difficult to get water for agriculture for which larger quantities are needed. We have observed that the majority of reservoirs in the area are getting dry and it’s unlikely there will be rain before the next inter-monsoon season [September-November],’ Herath added.

The water supply infrastructure was severely damaged during the fighting, Herath said.  

Dangers and challenges

Chamil Jinadasa, an independent health worker in Colombo, told IRIN that while the situation had improved since the war, basic sanitation and water facilities were below par.

‘Due to the lack of proper toilet facilities, people use open [land] and river banks for their toilet needs,’ Jinadasa said.

Diarrhoea and other diseases are prevalent, although the work of government and NGO health professionals had prevented the situation from deteriorating, he added.

Abdulai KaiKai, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Colombo’s head of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), said: ‘It is very difficult to put numbers to percentages of resettled people who have access to water and sanitation mainly because the process is still ongoing.’

UNICEF has provided support to the government to help clean 3,000 dug wells and drill 15 new ones. Most water-and-sanitation facilities were destroyed, abandoned and defunct before or during the conflict, according to UNICEF research.

‘This is why UNICEF is supporting the efforts of the government by working very closely with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and the Water Resources Board to clean and upgrade dug wells and drill new wells, installing hand-pumps.’

A joint operation between the government, UN agencies and NGOs has been launched to provide schools and health centres with WASH facilities, added KaiKai.

‘The first most important challenge is the amount of funding available. Not much funding is currently available and the future remains uncertain,’ he said. ‘The second most important challenge faced by UNICEF is the rate of progress of the demining process. This has implications for our ability and capacity to undertake assessments and make informed decisions.’

The threat of landmines was evidenced in Kilinochchi in January when a 10-year-old boy was injured by a mine while collecting wood.

‘The risk is still there. We need to do more,’ Nigel Robinson, country programme manager of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, told IRIN in May.

Clearing all known contaminated mine zones could take up to 20 years, or longer if funding dries up. While large parts of the Vanni region have been demined, increased civilian activity means there is still a risk. “

(Quelle: IRIN News.)

Tschad: Der vergessene Norden

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010

“CHAD: What’s happening in the north?

“N’DJAMENA, 8 June 2010 (IRIN) – BET, the acronym for the three northern regions of Chad – Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti – comes up regularly in meetings of international aid agencies frustrated by the lack of information and difficulty of access to the remote territory.

Drought in 2009 triggered the government’s call for international assistance, but no one really knows the full extent of the problem, according to a local NGO.

‘Everything we eat comes from Kanem and Batha [Chad’s west and central regions in the arid Sahelian belt] … why are people not asking how bad things are here? Why is no one coming to assess?’ Mahamat Khamis, president of an NGO in Ennedi, the Association for the promotion of local development initiatives, which began as a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation project in 1999.

The state and the international community are barely present in the north. ‘Seventy-five percent of the schools are financed by parents; health centres are scarce – the population in the north has been left to fend for themselves,’ Jean-Robert Moret, head of the Swiss Cooperation in Chad, told IRIN.

He said the problems in the north were not emergencies, but development problems left unattended could turn into emergencies. The Swiss Cooperation has funded schools, health, demining and environmental activities in Ennedi since the 1990s.

Malnutrition

Poor rainfall in 2009 led the government to estimate that it would take an additional 637,000 tonnes of food to feed its population, estimated at almost 11 million in 2009, and prevent two million children aged under five from slipping into greater hunger.

The arid BET regions – home to 264,000 people – primarily produce salt and grow dates around oases, but there is too little rainfall for agriculture. They rely on Chad’s southern and Sahel regions for food, but these have produced 34 percent less than in previous years, according to a multi-agency survey in October 2009.

The study, which did not include the BET regions, estimated that the drought killed 31 percent of livestock. ‘We were not able to access the north, and hope to get there at some point,’ said Mariam Sow Soumaré, technical advisor to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

But Khamis told IRIN that ‘some point’ was growing too late. Neither the government nor international agencies have conducted comprehensive agriculture or health surveys in the north.

Health workers at the five clinics in Ennedi, who were not trained to diagnose malnutrition but could measure weight and height, told IRIN that almost half the children they saw were underweight or too short for their age group – signs of malnutrition.

Michele Falavigna, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad, told IRIN the north did not raise as much concern as the rest of the country. ‘The region has elected parliamentarians, who represent the regions in the central administration. There are no widespread epidemics; the impact of climate change is not hitting them as hard as the rest of the nation because it has always been a desert region whose residents are resilient to so many factors.’

Landmines

The outgoing World Food Programme programme manager in Chad, Gon Myers, said the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance had curtailed support of school feeding programmes in the north.

‘The challenge … is accessibility because of the landmines; we cannot invest in areas where we cannot visit schools.’ A visit in February 2010 to four school feeding programmes along the Sudan border in the northeast had required mine-resistant armoured vehicles from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic and Chad.

‘We cannot afford to carry out observation missions with such heavy security. We need the government to work alongside us, to ensure safety for us to work in the north,’ Myers said.

A decade of sporadic fighting between Chad and Libya over a sparsely populated strip of land in the north has left the area dotted with at least a million mines, said Saleh Hissein Hassan, coordinator of the national demining centre.

Some 250 communities, or 284,000 people, are thought to live in mined areas, mostly the north, but these estimates do not include the northwestern region of Tibesti, which has not been surveyed because of safety concerns, said Hassan.

‘Development is closely tied to how quickly we can identify where the mines are, and how quickly we can demine and clear roads,’ he said. The centre is preparing to carry out a survey funded by Japan, to create a national landmine map that will also cover Tibesti.

The Ministry of Environment wants to include the north in the ‘Green Wall’, a nationwide reforestation initiative to combat desertification, but has been concerned about mines, said secretary general Saleh Mouhddine Mahamat. ‘No one can say we have abandoned the north; the will is there, but we need more funds and security to add to what is already being done.’

Troublemakers

However, Hassan told IRIN that ‘People think of northerners as troublemakers. When asked about the lack of relief and development projects, agencies and the government will tell you it is lack of security, but many times it is a political bias against the north.’

In April 2010 a dozen rebel factions in the north signed a peace deal with the government, ending years of sporadic fighting over demands for more government services and investment in the region. President Idriss Deby pledged US$54 million to clear roads and develop Tibesti. Barkai Saleh Choua Moussa, a former rebel, now the government-appointed Tibesti focal point, told IRIN: ‘The era of promises for the north needs to translate into action. People say desert residents are survivors, but even they have their limits.'”

(Quelle: IRIN News.)