Posts tagged jmu
Posts tagged jmu
More photos from CISR Director Ken Rutherford’s Vietnam trip as part of CISR’s conflict survivor survey mission to adapt information management system along the lines of the Convention on the Rights and Dignity of People with Disabilities.
Only two years after the Taliban was overthrown in 2001, 7,000 public schools enrolled roughly 3.9 million children, 25 percent of which were females. There are now 12,000 public schools that enroll roughly 9 million children, 40 percent of which are females. With the increase in adult learning centers, more and more adults are learning how to read and write. Since 2001, the private-business sector has grown in Afghanistan. Many consumer goods such as clothing and shoes are being produced locally within the country, creating job opportunities and enhancing the economy.
Afghanistan’s Biggest Challenges
On Friday, April 19, a Taliban suicide bomber struck security forces in the southern province of Helmend, injuring five policemen and two civilians. In Afghanistan, these types of tragedies happen weekly. As a result of past conflict, Afghanistan is littered with landmines. Every month, 20 to 30 individuals including men, women and children are killed or injured due to landmine accidents. Many of these people live in rural areas and/or are displaced people from neighboring countries. As NATO troops continue to withdrawal from the country, the Afghan people are becoming worried that life will return to how it was in the ‘90s when the Taliban maintained control. Parents are keeping their children from attending school, and local and foreign investors are losing interest in Afghanistan. Furthermore, funding and support for landmine clearance is insufficient.
The CISR–JMU Community Can Help
It is important that CISR, through mediums such as The Journal of ERW and Mine Action, continue to publicize facts about Afghanistan’s challenges in order to increase awareness worldwide. CISR must also continue to provide strategic guidance and organizational support to organizations like the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA).
Roughly 60 percent of Afghan students are educated under tents without the luxuries of classrooms, air conditioning, computer labs, etc. These brave and persistent students should be recognized as heroes, giving inspiration to underprivileged students all over the world. James Madison University can provide encouragement by simply acknowledging the Afghan students’ incredible commitment to learning. This can be done via social media, publications, bulletin-board postings, etc. This will not only give these students encouragement, but it will provide them with hope for the future.
~ Daniel Braun, CISR staff
Yesterday, Democracy Now! had a great interview with the Legacies of War “Voices from Laos” speakers! On April 25, CISR will sponsor this speaker’s tour. Join us to hear it from 7-8:30 p.m. at JMU’s HHS 1302. It’s free and open to the public.
FYI, since 1993 the U.S. has invested $62,061,333 in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) programs in Laos for clearance and safe disposal of mines and UXO munitions, as well as survivor assistance and risk education. Last year when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Laos, she pledged to do more, and more money was allotted to this effort.
Forty years ago, on March 29, 1973, the “secret” U.S. bombing that devastated Laos came to an end. By that point, the United States had dropped at least two million tons of bombs on Laos. That is the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years — more than on Germany and Japan during World War II. The deadly legacy of the Vietnam War lives on today in the form of unexploded cluster bombs. Experts estimate Laos is littered with as many as 80 million “bombies” — or baseball-size bombs found inside cluster bombs. Since the bombing stopped four decades ago, as many as 20,000 people have been injured or killed as a result. To mark International Day of Mine Awareness, we speak to a Laotian bomb survivor and a leader of an all-women bomb clearance team in Laos. Thoummy Silamphan and Manixia Thor are speaking at the United Nations today and are currently in the United States on a tour organized by Legacies of War.
On April 4, advocates and observers around the world will mark another International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Much has been accomplished since humanitarian landmine action came to the global agenda — hundreds of millions of dollars have been committed to clear millions of acres in thousands of communities. As we mark this day, it is important to reflect on the vast number of people we will never meet who are the very real beneficiaries of this effort.
Yet two countries where this day could have special meaning are closed to the global community by conflict and unrest. For conflict survivors in Burma and Syria, where landmines are still being used, April 4 will pass with little recognition and even less change. Beyond new contamination from landmines and explosive remnants of war, populations in both countries are endangered by the long legacies of conflict. The voices of survivors are a unique opportunity for development and growth.
As the survivor of a landmine accident, I can attest to the central triumph of the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty (commonly called the Ottawa Convention) — above and beyond stigmatizing and eradicating AP landmines, the treaty incorporated the voice of mine victims into its requirements, guidelines, and language. Survivors were critical to driving the agenda, changing opinions, and seeing the treaty through.
When the global community met to begin the discussions that led to a similar ban on cluster munitions, survivors played an even larger role. With the banner, “Nothing about us without us,” we lobbied for increased protection of victims and their families. So it was with global discussions of landmines and cluster munitions, and so it must be for all conflicts.
This must not be another day marked by another spate of press releases — this day calls for action. The global community has the opportunity and responsibility to assist all victims of conflict. The United States, along with Burma and Syria, is not yet a State Party to the Ottawa Convention. Although the current US policy is being actively reviewed, we cannot wait for policy to drive progress. As Burma and Syria evolve, we must anticipate a day when the idea of a just and prosperous future is available not only to the abled but also the differently abled.
The landmine that took my legs was indiscriminate. It easily could have taken the legs of my Somali driver, another passerby, or a child — that an American aid worker should be injured was secondary to its function. The conflicts in Burma and Syria will be similarly callous, scarring the abled and disabled in ways we can see and ways we cannot.
As we mark another day for mine action awareness, we must be more active than aware for survivors in Burma and Syria. Before they call, we must answer and while they are yet recovering, we must hear.
Ken Rutherford, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University. He was a co-founder of the Landmine Survivors Network and was a leader in the Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition that spearheaded the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the movement that led to the 2008 Cluster Munitions Treaty.
A call to action! Help CISR support victims of conflict. Consider making a donation this April 4.
PCRW 2013: CISR Director Ken Rutherford and Dr. Larry Schwab of West Virginia University
Monday night CISR hosted Schwab, a medical officer during the Vietnam War, at James Madison University. He presented on his post-conflict experience—“In the Dragon’s Teeth: Coming Home from War in Indochina.”
HARRISONBURG — A woman in South Sudan walks through tall grass. She steadies a water vessel on her head with one arm, and has her child wrapped, cradled at her back.
Her path to pick up water, though, goes directly through a minefield.
Sean Sutton, a veteran “conflict” photojournalist, and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) marketing and communications director, documents scenes like this one, which he captured in a black-and-white photograph, to educate and influence the public and policymakers on explosives left behind after an armed conflict ends.
“People don’t have a chance with landmines in the ground,” Sutton said.
Sutton of Manchester, England, returned from South Sudan two weeks ago, where he spent a month photographing MAG activities and the people affected by the scraps left from war.
Sutton spoke Sunday evening at Transitions in Warren Hall at James Madison University to kick off the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery’s (CISR) Post-Conflict Recovery Week. An exhibit of his photos was unveiled Sunday night at the center.
CISR, based at JMU, publishes a journal on humanitarian mine removal and the practices and methodologies in clearing explosive remnants of war, according to the group’s website.
Kenneth Rutherford, the center’s director and a JMU political science professor, lost both of his legs after driving over a mine in Somalia in 1993, where he worked at a humanitarian aid office.
Rutherford said that while he lay in a hospital bed he wrote his eulogy in his head and decided to become a teacher like his father.
“I’ve been blessed. I’ve had wonderful medical care,” Rutherford said. “A lot of amputees I meet around the world don’t have the support that I have.”
Sutton’s photographs revealed some of those victims.
Black and white photos showed scarred bodies, blinded children and people missing limbs, all from land mines, unexploded ordnance, cluster munitions and other remnants of war.
Sutton said most of the victims he met knew they were walking into dangerous areas.
“Basically people will risk themselves because they don’t have a choice,” Sutton said of the people who must walk through fields of hidden and buried explosives to get water or firewood.
But the photographs told a broader story than just destruction. Sutton’s work also portrays hope through the rebuilding process.
MAG’s efforts to remove explosive materials from war-torn regions including Libya, Iraq, Vietnam and Cambodia, showed land and waterways, formerly unusable because of the concentrations of explosives, being re-plowed and re-fished.
Sutton showed a picture of a man tossing a fishing net into a canal that he used to avoid before MAG workers, many of whom are trained to help the nations where they work, swept and cleared the area of 50,000 square meters.
“They only found six mines,” Sutton said. “Just a few mines can block an incredibly valuable resource.”
Sutton told about Lao PDR, better known as Laos, which is littered with cluster bombs and other explosives left from the Vietnam War. The explosives were dropped, and left, by both sides of the conflict.
“Every year they find more and more, just like stones in a field,” Sutton said, making land un-tillable.
He explained that these people don’t want a handout, just assistance with something they don’t have the means to do themselves.
“All they want is to stand on their own two feet,” Sutton said.
“It was interesting to see how he used his pictures perfectly … to convey the message that he wanted,” said Chris Belcourt, a junior international business marketing major, who attended the lecture.
“Southeast Asia is home to me,” Belcourt, 21, said, explaining that the pictures could have been taken near where he grew up in Indonesia.
Harrisonburg, VA (March 6, 2013) – The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University announced Christopher Murguia as the 2013 recipient of the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Humanitarian Demining Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA). The Fellowship raises awareness about landmine contamination around the world and allows the recipient to assist program and resource managers with conventional weapons destruction programs in impacted countries. Beginning in 2013, the Fellows serve a two-year term, allowing for a more extensive professional development experience. The State Department and JMU will continue to select a new Fellow annually.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Va., Murguia received a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in international nongovernmental organization management from JMU in December 2012. He received his Bachelor of Science in justice studies from JMU in May 2011 and works as a Graduate Fellow at the University.
Murguia’s interest in humanitarian demining began during graduate school when he worked as an editorial assistant at CISR. “Working for CISR opened my eyes to the impacts that ERW [explosive remnants of war] and landmines have on populations around the world, and I cultivated a deep respect for the services that demining organizations provide.” As part of his MPA studies, Murguia interned for eight weeks with Danish Demining Group in Juba, South Sudan. He felt the Fellowship would be a great opportunity given his experience and interest in demining.
JMU and the State Department established the Fellowship in 1999 to raise awareness of landmine contamination around the world and U.S. Government efforts to address the problem. The Fellowship’s name honors Ambassador Robert C. Frasure, Dr. Joseph J. Kruzel and Col. Samuel Nelson Drew, who lost their lives in an August 1995 automobile accident in Bosnia and Herzegovina while on a mission to help end its conflict. Murguia is the 22nd recipient of this Fellowship. “I am honored and excited to be the next Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Fellow,” says Murguia. “This Fellowship will be an amazing learning and professional-development opportunity, and it will allow me to apply my academic skills and experience in the demining sector to accomplish PM/WRA’s mission.”
JMU founded the Mine Action Information Center in 1996, which became CISR in 2008. The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery helps communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange and direct services.
When the conflict is over, the real work begins.
Find out how you can help and be the change: http://cisr.jmu.edu/give.html