17 November 2011

With just ten days to go until the 11MSP, ICBL interviewed Margaret Arach Orech, ICBL Ambassador from Uganda Landmine Survivors Association. Here Margaret shares her experience as someone who has been directly affected by landmines. In the run up to the 11MSP, which is being held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December 2011, the ICBL will be highlighting the amazing work of some of our campaigners from around the world. Read their stories in their own words and how they are working hard to Push For Progress towards a mine free world.

1) When and how did you become involved with the ICBL?

I became involved with the ICBL in 1999 just four months after my injury. Five days after being discharged from hospital, I attended a disability conference in Harare, Zimbabwe in March 1999. At this meeting, I met a landmine survivor from the USA named Ms. Marianne Holt who gave me a brochure from the ICBL. I then wrote to the ICBL Coordinator (Liz Bernstein) for enquiries and that's how I got introduced to the ICBL. My first activity was to write to the USA Embassy in Kampala urging the USA President to join the MBT.

2) Why did you become involved? Personal experience, inspired by others in the campaign, political or humanitarian interest, or something else entirely?

I became involved personally because of the experience I encountered with landmines that left me physically and psychologically disabled! I believe through my involvement with the ICBL, I contribute to saving lives of people around the world who are threatened by the danger of landmines; I also feel that our work helps to raise the voice of landmine survivors from around the world.

3) As an ICBL national campaigner how would you like to see states – either your country or others – Push for Progress at the 11MSP?

I would like to see states actually Push for Progress through taking action. I would like to see states send high level representation to the 11MSP, including a survivor in the government delegation and give fresh updates on what they are doing in relation to the MBT and exercising total compliance with the MBT.This question reminded me of a similar question we were asked during Victim Assistance Parallel Program of the 2010 Intersessional Standing Committee Meetings, “what are the priorities for states with regards to the MBT?” I named three priorities, number one: implementation, number two: implementation and number three: implementation. I am repeating it here, because that is what’s needed.

4) What message do you have for anyone out there who isn’t aware of the lethal threat landmines still pose for thousands of civilians every day?

Always be alert of your surroundings, more so in areas that have experienced conflict. Unless removed, landmines are ever alert for the next victim. Don't be that victim!Take action against landmines, we believe that a world free of landmine is possible in our lifetime, so please help us to achieve that goal and leave behind a safe world for the next generation.