Disability Services to Be Rolled Out in Provinces

Cambodia will on Tuesday introduce measures intended to better serve disabled people living in the provinces and will hold its first workshop on the draft of a new five-year plan to improve disability services, the government said at an annual meeting of members to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Geneva.

In a statement delivered to the meeting’s committee on victim assistance on Tuesday, Cambodia said that starting next week, the government’s Disability Action Council would have an official presence in each province.

Once in the provinces, the statement says, the council will “implement policies for people with disabilities at the local level, law enforcement and the convention relating to the collection of information.”

Cambodia said it would also hold its first workshop on its draft 2014-2018 National Disability Strategy Plan on December 19 and 20 for implementation early next year, but also noted a shortage of financial support and human and technical resources.

Though skeptical of the provincial initiative at first, Denise Coghlan of Jesuit Service Cambodia and a member of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, said she was encouraged by a meeting she attended a few weeks ago at which a deputy governor from each province was assigned to the task.

“While there’s a lot still to happen, things are moving,” she said. “This is the most hopeful I’ve felt in a long time.”

According to government figures, more than 64,000 Cambodians have been killed or injured by unexploded remnants of war since  1979.

In the latest case, a young man stepped on a civil war-era anti-personnel mine in Battambang province on Tuesday. The injury forced doctors to amputate the man’s left foot.

(Additional reporting by Ben Sokhean)

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