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Global cash scheme to aid landmine victims

WESTERN donor nations have given a tentative thumbs-up to a proposed $20 million

global scheme to help the long-term rehabilitation of mine victims.

Under

the proposal, Cambodia will be able to help itself to 10 percent of the money

which is likely to be a lifesaver to NGOs now working in the area.

The

Cambodia Trust Limb Project - whose parent charity has proposed the Global Mine

Victims Fund - will run out of money by 1998; other NGOs face similar money

problems and there is a danger of prosthetic and orthotic programs shutting

down, and the work lost, as the world turns its attention away from Cambodia and

towards other countries.

Cambodia Trust director Stan Windass has twice

visited the United Nations and was told by high-ranking officials from the G7

industrialised nations of their enthusiasm for the fund. In Cambodia, Co-Prime

Mnister Hun Sen has already agreed to his patronage to the Cambodian Mine

Victims Fund, as has Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda who made the first donation

of $475.

After the legal structure of the fund is agreed, the World

Health Organisation will allow the fund to formally approach the G7 countries -

and Italy and the Netherlands - for money. Those countries will be asked for $10

million, the host governments and business communities $5 million, and operating

NGOs the balance of $5 million.

The Cambodia Trust currently provides a

quarter of Cambodia's needs - now fitting 2,000 amputees each year in two

clinics and one training school - but acknowledges that there are "ten Cambodias

in the world."

The fund has been proposed to deliver "a lifetime

commitment" of professional care to mine victims.

The rationale behind

the fund was that the problem of mines should be owned by the world community

though its governments and not just by NGOs, according to the Cambodian

Trust.

Trust community relations manager Borithy Lun said: "Why are the

international community giving 50 percent? Because they are the root of the

problem. They are the ones that create mines, so they have to pay a share of the

problem," he said.

"At the moment we are financing the whole lot

ourselves but we can't go on forever doing that. One day we will not be given

any more money and we will have to close the door and go home," he

said.

"We can't do that because the government of Cambodia cannot take

over the project. So in order that the project keeps on till Khmers can take it

over we have to share the problem."

Borithy Lun said initial talks with

businesses in Cambodia proved "that they agree in principle... they are very

enthusiastic and say the idea is good."

It would be counter-productive

for any one operating NGO in isolation to approach the host business community

and government for long-term support. Such an approach would be divisive within

the NGO community and would fail for this reason, according to the Trust.

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