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.
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.
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
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 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
"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.