Two years ago, we met Nouay Phonesomxay, a Lao cluster bomb victim and Handicap International deminer. In May 2016, we caught up with Nouay as he and his team cleared land around Ponntong village, which was located near the former Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese used the Ho Chi Minh Trail to bring supplies through Laos to support troops in Southern Vietnam. This route was heavily bombed by the U.S., and a high level of UXO pollution remains in the area today.
Under the blazing sun and 102F (39C) heat, Nouay Phonesomxay and his fellow Handicap International deminers slowly move through the dense vegetation inside a 2,500 square meter plot, looking for bombs. Once primary jungle, the foliage was decimated by U.S. bombing during the Vietnam War and now only weeds and bramble grown here.
Baramulla Tigers against the Kupwara Tigers. In early June 2016, Handicap International organized the first ever cricket match to include players with and without disabilities at Handwara degree college, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. A big success and an opportunity to foster the inclusion of young people with disabilities in society.
Handicap International provides risk education on the explosive remnants of war that contaminate the ground in villages close to boarder with Pakistan. The organisation also provides rehabilitation care to the most vulnerable people.
The conflict that tore through the Gaza Strip in summer 2014 not only caused extensive material damage, it left nearly 10,000 unexploded devices behind: rockets, missile warheads and bombs. Since March 2015, Handicap International’s teams have been raising the awareness of people living in the worst-affected neighbourhoods to prevent potentially deadly accidents. One such session, in Deir Al-Balah, led to the defusing of four unexploded devices.
Handicap International’s demining expert, Simon Elmont, coordinates the organization’s efforts to protect civilians from explosive remnants of war in Iraq. These actions aim at clearing areas formerly contaminated (previous wars) or zones affected more recently by conflicts, such as territories occupied by the Islamic State group.
Since March 2016, Handicap International has worked with almost 20,000 people raising awareness of small arms and light weapons and explosive remnants of war in northern Mali. This awareness-raising campaign will continue for another year. The objective is to reduce the very high number of accidents in this region of the country where weapons are commonplace following the intense fighting that took place in 2012-2013.
In Iraq, Handicap International runs psychosocial support sessions for people affected by the crisis, many of whom have been displaced from their homes. In Kirkuk governorate, the organization runs regular group sessions to help them overcome theirs traumas related to the conflict.
Erika Trabucco is one of Handicap International’s reconstruction and building accessibility specialists. From March 2015 to April 2016, this architect by training worked for the organization in the Gaza Strip to rebuild a hospital specialized in the care and treatment of people with disabilities and to improve the accessibility of public buildings for people with disabilities.
A 6.8 magnitude earthquake affected the coastal regions of Manabi and Esmeraldas, already hardly hit by the earthquake of April 17th, 2016 which killed almost 700 people and hurt more than 6000, and led to 30 000 people in need of an emergency shelter.
Kenya has announced plans to close the refugee camps on its territory and to rapidly repatriate refugees who, in some cases, have lived in the camps for over 20 years. A collective of 11 NGOs, including Handicap International, have signed a joint statement reminding the Kenyan government of its obligation towards the refugees.
Between October 2015 and February 2016, Handicap International, with UNICEF's support, led a vast awareness-raising campaign in Ukrainian schools on the risks of landmines and explosive remnants of war near the front line where the Ukrainian army is fighting the pro-Russian militia. More than 5,600 children between ages 6 and 18 benefited from the program.
The aerial bombardment of a camp for internally displaced Syrians in Sarmada, near the Turkish border, caused at least 28 deaths and left more than 50 individuals wounded on Thursday, May 5.
The bombing and shelling of the city of Aleppo in northern Syria has intensified in recent days, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.
Since January 2016, Handicap International has repaired landing strips across the Central African Republic. Implemented in coordination and conjunction with humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations and NGOs, this initiative aims at improving the distribution of humanitarian aid to the country’s most isolated regions.
In March 2016, the Syrian crisis entered its sixth year. The conflict has torn Syria apart and caused population displacement on a previously unseen scale. More than 4.8 million Syrian refugees now live in neighbouring countries, including some 638,000 in Jordan. For four years, the Handicap International teams, with support from the European Commission (ECHO), have been assisting them in communities and camps. Nowar, Ansam, Noor and Amer tell us about their daily work with the refugees.