More than 20 States and several international organizations are gathering in Vienna, Austria, on September 21 and 22, 2015, to discuss a political solution aimed at ending the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“This is the first time States have met to propose a diplomatic process in response to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas,” says Anne Hery, Head of Advocacy for Handicap International. “And, it’s also the first time that survivors can make their voices heard by the international community."
"The real impact of these weapons on civilians will be central to the diplomats’ discussions," says Hery. "States must bring an end to this intolerable practice. They also need to advance the rights and meet the needs of survivors and their families, who are too often left manage on their own.”
Giving survivors a voice
Adnan, who was injured by a shell burst in 1995 during the conflict in former Yugoslavia, and Oussama, the victim of a bombardment during the Syria conflict in 2012, have been invited to Vienna by Handicap International. They will provide testimony on their trauma, disabilities, and the obstacles they have faced in trying to regain their places in society. They will describe the horrific impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Sadly, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is common practice in current conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and other countries. Handicap International, which works in a number of different situations where people have been or are still affected by these weapons, recently documented the impact of these weapons in Syria in two reports.
Explosive weapons used in populated areas kill civilians and cause suffering and serious injuries such as burns, open wounds, and fractures. They also cause lifelong disabilities and psychological trauma. This practice results in forced population displacement, and the destruction of vital infrastructure such as homes, schools, and hospitals.
Not all weapons explode on impact during attacks, posing a permanent threat to civilians long after a conflict ends. The presence of explosive remnants of war makes it dangerous for people to return to their homes once an attack is over or the conflict has ended.
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 33 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since its founding in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 and the winner of the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.