Republished from Survivor Networks*
On 28 December, 2013 representatives of nine local survivor associations launched the first-ever Colombian survivor network in Bogotá.
The initiative was carried out by the District Association of Landmine Survivors (or, ADISMAM in Spanish), with technical support from the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCCM in Spanish) and funded by the ICBL-CMC’s Survivor Network Project.
The Network aims to bring awareness to two inter-linked issues: the challenges faced by both persons with disabilities, and victims of conflict. There is clearly extensive overlap between victims of conflict and persons with disabilities—90% of landmine survivors are left with permanent disabilities and many other people living in the same communities also have disabilities from other causes. Therefore, it is important to address their needs together. A joint effort can most effectively advance the rights of both survivors and other persons with disabilities.
Participants in the National Network of Landmine Victims and Survivors´ Organizations
Reinel Barbosa, National Coordinator of the Network and himself a landmine survivor and amputee, highlights the need for victim assistance and the importance of a network to unite efforts towards a shared vision: “Assistance to victims is one of the main focuses of the Network, given that securing needed assistance is an ongoing challenge for network members. Therefore we concentrate on supporting victims and following their cases by communicating regularly with organizations and institutions to make sure that their rights are fulfilled.”
So far nine survivor associations from seven of the most mine affected regions of the country, locally known as departments, have come on board to be part of this network.
One of the greatest challenges that the Network faces is raising awareness among the affected part of the population. To make this happen, the network’s main goal is to promote the rights of victims of landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and improvised explosive devices (IED) as well as the rights of persons with disabilities. Increased awareness of these rights will help survivors access comprehensive attention and reparations to which they are entitled under Colombia’s Victim Law.
The Network also is working for the participation of survivors and other persons with disabilities in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies that affect their lives.
The network will have an important role in ensuring good communication between governmental institutions and mines/ERW survivors’ representatives. Members are already working to be included in national, municipal and departmental councils, including the National Intersectorial Commission for Mine Action (CINAMAP). Some network members currently have a role in monitoring the National Plan for Comprehensive Assistance, Attention and Reparation for Victims and in influencing public housing policy in order to prioritize the needs of victims with disabilities.
“We want to establish communication in each of the departments between the coordinators and their respective associations with all the institutions involved in victim assistance,” says Barbosa.
*The Survivor Networks blog is a new initiative of the ICBL-CMC Survivor Networks Project . It is designed to highlight and promote the work of national survivor networks. You can also follow the blog conversation on Facebook and on Twitter @survivor_net. Please feel free to share Survivor Networks blog posts (reblog) on your own blog or website, or link to them from your organization’s Facebook page.