Refers to all aid, relief, comfort and support provided to victims (including survivors) with the purpose of reducing the immediate and long-term medical and psychological implications of their trauma. Victim Assistance as commonly understood in mine action refers to all care and rehabilitation activities that aim to meet the immediate and long-term needs of landmine and ERW victims, their families, and affected communities. The term ‘victim’ refers generally to those who have been injured or killed by a landmine or ERW explosion, to their families who suffer emotional, social and financial loss and to the communities that lose access to land and other resources due to the presence of landmines or ERW. VA in mine action should not create isolated programmes for those disabled from landmines and ERW. VA calls for ensuring that existing health care and social service systems, rehabilitation programmes and legislative and policy frameworks are adequate to meet the needs of all citizens – including landmine survivors and family members of deceased victims. The first mine/ERW related incidents were recorded in 1982 when two incidents occurred with a casualty in each. The figures escalated to 162 incidents and 211 casualties in 2001. The numbers dramatically reduced over the years but are currently slowly rising with the return of the IDP population.
The figures for 2010 until 31 August are 14 incidents and 23 casualties. Please see figure 1 below for all the recorded annual mine/ERW related incidents and casualties. Mine action in Sri Lanka has not given great attention to VA to date. UNICEF supports VA service providers, albeit at a much lower scale than MRE, and UNDP provides socio-economic support, including to targeted vulnerable populations, to the North and East through its Transition Recovery Program. Ministries dealing with VA as part of their disability focus or in support of victims from conflict include the Ministry of Social Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defence (Directorate of Rehabilitation). Coordination among key-stakeholders has yet to be established. In Sri Lanka data on people with disability are scarce; data on mine/ERW victims exist but are incomplete and inconsistent. Sri Lanka decided to set up an injury surveillance system which is now functioning but at a limited scale (Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, Non-Communicable Diseases with support of Trauma Secretariat). Availability and quality of medical services is good but does not reach all of the newly resettled areas yet. Physical rehabilitative services have improved over recent years but serious gaps remain to be addressed. Coordination in the sector is weak to non-existent.