The conflict that tore Casamance apart for thirty years is now over. However, anti-personnel mines still pose a threat to civilian lives. Alongside its mine clearance operations, Handicap International is also working with its partner, the ASVM (Senegalese Association of Mine Victims), to inform and raise the population's awareness of the risks of mines. Over an eight-month period, awareness-raising sessions will be held in 60 schools and 65 villages.
For one year now Yemen has been torn apart by a conflict that has killed over 3,000 civilians. The humanitarian needs are immense. Since last October, Handicap International has been providing care for the injured. Over 1,200 people have already been helped by the organisation.
Thirty-one-year-old Fatou Diaw has found and destroyed over 50 mines in her impressive seven-year career. Equally at ease with probes, metal detectors and slashers, she knows demining back to front. Below she describes how her work became her passion.
The sun has just come up. After the team has loaded up the equipment, Aziz, Handicap International's Head of Demining Operations, motivates the troops and reminds them of the day's objective: demining the village of Diagnon, located around fifty kilometres out of Ziguinchor.
Nirmala, 8, has sparkling eyes. After losing her right leg following the earthquake which struck Nepal in April 2015, she underwent a long period of rehabilitation with the support of Humanity & Inclusion (HI) physiotherapists. Today, she is walking again on her prosthetic leg and obsessed with just one thing: becoming an actress.
Aged just thirteen years old, the war has already taken a heavy toll on Firas. In 2012, he fell victim to a bomb. His injuries required the amputation of his right leg and he continues to have problems with his left foot. With the assistance of Humanity & Inclusion (HI), Firas has been provided with a prosthesis which has given him back his independence.
On April 8th 2015, Hamza Al-Sisawi attended the Mine Action Day celebrations at UNRWA’s Khan Younis Training Centre in Gaza. He was particularly happy to be there – he and his family narrowly avoided disaster after their home was contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the recent crisis.
When the earthquake struck Haiti on 12th January 2010, 12-year-old Christella was at school. The building collapsed on her and she spent the night and much of the next morning trapped under the rubble with the bodies of those who did not survive. After she was rescued Christella’s leg needed to be amputated at the upper thigh.
Agnes has to walk for nearly two hours to attend the weekly meetings organised in Gihango, a village in the west of Rwanda. "But it’s more than worth it. Before I got to know the group, I was too frightened to talk to other people. I was very reclusive. I felt so sad and afraid. When I was able to tell my story here for the first time, I cried like a baby. I felt relieved somehow."
In 2005, seven-year-old Kanha was playing in her family's courtyard when her father came home from his fields. He brought home a rusty metal object—scrap metal he planned to sell. The instant he brought his hammer down on the object it exploded. Shrapnel from the bomb killed him instantly, and the impact of the blast hurled Kahna across the courtyard. Her mother found her lying unconscious on the ground, her right leg torn to shreds.
Following ongoing clashes in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 8,000 people have fled to southern Burundi since 24 January. HI has assessed the needs of the affected populations, in conjunction with the NGO Terre des Hommes, and is planning to launch an emergency response.
HI is committed to ending the bombing of populated areas, a practice now commonplace in current conflicts, and which mainly affects civilians. What’s the best way to mobilise the support of politicians on this issue? What is HI doing to warn them and to encourage them to take a stand? HI’s weapons advocacy officer, Baptiste Chapuis, explains the advocacy work carried out since the beginning of 2017 with politicians in France.
Developments in mine clearance largely reflect recent changes in response environments. Thomas Hugonnier, head of Mine Action at HI, explains how this currently affects our mine clearance operations.