On TICAD sidelines, Ugandan land mine activist calls for more support for victims

Kyodo

Ugandan land mine survivor and activist Margaret Arech Orech is calling for more international action to support people crippled by the explosive devices in Africa.

Orech, who lost her right leg to a land mine in 1998 in northern Uganda, said such explosives are only adding to the problems in Africa, which is already plagued by wars, HIV/AIDS and natural disasters such as droughts.

Speaking at a symposium Sunday in Yokohama related to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, she said that in the face of such threats, the disabled are more vulnerable “due to lack of accessibility to information and social prejudice that excludes them from community.”

The urge to protect her children as well as the support she got from family members allowed Orech to recover.

“Sadly, this is not the case for other victims on the continent of Africa,” she said of why she now travels around the world to act as the voice of land-mine victims.

In Uganda, mines were used during a civil war following the country’s independence in 1962. According to the Association for Aid and Relief Japan, more than 2,000 people have been injured or killed by land mines in Uganda.

The Ugandan government signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, but such tragedies continue to be reported in the country.