At nine years of age, Katja is something of a veteran. However, each day this female Belgian Shepherd comes to work with fresh energy and enthusiasm. She has worked in an impressive number of African countries: Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo... and thanks to her exceptional sense of smell she has detected dozens of explosive devices.
Although the conflict between the Senegalese army and the rebel forces of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) appears to be slowly fading, populations still face the threat of anti-personnel mines. At the beginning of December, Handicap International launched a mine-clearing programme. The first operations in the village of Diagnon, east of Ziguinchor, began in mid-December and aim to clear 30,000 square metres of land of mines, barbaric weapons that primarily kill and mutilate civilians.
This December, UK school students and campaigners from Cornwall to the Highlands raised their voices for the victims of conflict in countries like Syria, as part of the Forgotten 10 Challenge. Students raised awareness among their peers, Pyramids of Shoes were built, Tea at 10 coffee mornings took place, and lots of support was gathered for the Stop Explosive Weapons petition.
As the world marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, Handicap International reports that 75% of people with disabilities believe they are excluded from humanitarian response. Closely involved in international forums such as the World Humanitarian Summit and the current Conference on Climate Change (COP21), Handicap International is calling on the international community to ensure people with disabilities are taken into account when preparing and implementing humanitarian response to crises.
Demining in the mountains 25/11/15
Handicap International’s demining operations have been running since 2011 in the province of North Lebanon, and more recently have been deployed in the province of Mount Lebanon. The civil war, which tore the country apart between 1975 and 1990, left swathes of land rendered unusable by landmines. This land has now been cleared and handed back to the local inhabitants.
Since November 2014, Handicap International has been training Mozambique’s police force in basic techniques for neutralising explosive devices. This is one way in which the organisation is seeing through to completion the demining work it began in the country in 1998, and which ended last March.
The impact of demining 19/11/15
Mozambique was officially declared to be free of mines on 17 September 2015. Handicap International has been a leading actor in demining in the country since it launched its first operations in 1998. Over the course of its 17 years of work in Mozambique, the organisation has demined over 16 million square metres, neutralised 6,000 antipersonnel mines and 5,000 unexploded remnants of war. Grégory Le Blanc, Handicap International’s Head of Mission in the country, explains the benefits of this demining work for the population who, until very recently, have lived with the constant threat of mines.
Bayan, 12: I long to walk again 28/10/15
Bayan is twelve-years-old. Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spine does not develop properly, she has reduced mobility. Every week, she visits a rehabilitation centre equipped for physiotherapy sessions by Handicap International, with support from ECHO . She’s also likely to be given orthoses to help her walk again.
Already present in the field, Handicap International’s teams are ready to launch an emergency response after a violent earthquake hit Afghanistan and Pakistan at 10am today, Monday 26 October. According to initial estimates made within hours of the disaster, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured around the epicentre, which is located in a mountainous area separating the two countries.
Six months after the earthquake, Handicap International is still providing support to the most vulnerable 25/10/15
More than 8,700 people were killed and 22,400 people injured in the earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April 2015. Nearly six months on, thousands still need help and Handicap International’s teams continue to provide them with support.
Making schools accessible to everyone, including children with disabilities, raises both challenges and hopes. It’s a goal that Handicap International is doing everything possible to achieve and, for Estelle Kougougou, who manages these projects in Burkina Faso and Niger, it’s a challenge we can meet.
- Burkina Faso
Russian-made cluster munitions, including models used for the first time in this conflict, were deployed in the region of Aleppo in early October, according to reports by the NGO Human Rights Watch , although it has not been determined if they were used by Russian or Syria troops.
As part of a consortium of seven humanitarian agencies, since September 2014, Handicap International has been a member of the Age and Disability Capacity Building Programme (ADCAP). This initiative aims at developing the skills of humanitarian organisations to ensure emergency response is more inclusive of people with disabilities and/or older people. Ricardo Pla Cordero, a humanitarian action inclusion technical adviser at Handicap International, explains why this initiative is important.
A survey by Handicap International has revealed that 75% of people with disabilities believe they are excluded from humanitarian aid. The report on people with disabilities and humanitarian response, entitled Disability in Humanitarian Contexts is published on 14th October. As the report is launched, 900 representatives of the humanitarian sector are meeting in Geneva to prepare for the World Humanitarian Summit.