Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

CISR envisions a world where people can build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of conflict and disaster.

We help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative and reliable research, training, information exchange, and direct services such as:

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In a panel discussion on the long-lasting psychosocial effects of conflict that remain long after peace is declared, local trauma specialists and a genocide survivor from Burundi will share their experiences, featuring the Director of Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience at Eastern Mennonite University, Elaine Zook Barge, CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley, survivor Jean Claude Nkundwa and James Madison University's Dr. Anne Stewart.

April 2 | 7-8:30 p.m. | ISAT 159 | Light refreshments to follow

Ma Theint Theint Moe talks about the landmine that took her leg in Kyaukkyi township, Bago Region. (Nyein Ei Ei Htwe/The Myanmar Times)

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In interviews with The Myanmar Times, some of the victims recalled the day they made violent contact with the hidden menace beneath the earth and related the toll it has taken.

“Suddenly, I felt as if the earth had swallowed me up. Everything went black, but I felt no pain. Then, when I tried to stand up, I found my right leg was gone,” said Ma Theint Theint Moe.

In 2003 she became the first woman in her town to fall victim to the mines planted in Bago Region’s Kyaukkyi township, close to the border with Kayin State.

Read more …

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Bashar works with an HI physiotherapist following a shrapnel injury. Photo courtesy of Giles Duley and Handicap International.

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Bashar, 13 years old, was injured in July 2011 during the early stages of the Syrian crisis. Engulfed by the fighting in Deraa, the family was forced to flee their home with their children and look for a safer place to stay. As they were leaving their home a tank shell landed nearby. Shrapnel from the blast shattered Bashar’s left leg and also wounded his brother.

Bashar was rushed to the hospital in Deraa where they put an internal fixture in his left knee and sutured the wound. He already suffered from juvenile arthritis and, as time went on, it became clear that he was not getting the care he needed to recover from his injury. In February 2012, as the conflict escalated, the family decided to leave Syria and seek treatment for Bashar in Jordan.

Once in Jordan, Bashar had further surgery, and his leg was put in a cast, leaving him bedridden for many months. As a result, he was unable to move his left knee joint, his muscles weakened further, and both legs became stiff from lack of use.

HI’s mobile team found Bashar in desperate need of rehabilitation. Having not received proper rehabilitation care for more than a year following his injury, Bashar’s recovery has been painful and slow, made worse by arthritis that makes all of the joints in his body very painful to touch.

As a young boy growing up in Syria, Bashar was often in pain from the inflammation in his joints, but he received treatment for his condition. He could still walk and play football.

Now confined to his family’s rented fifth floor apartment in a small town near the Syrian border, Bashar rarely gets to go outside and can only dream of attending school. If he had received physical therapy sooner, many of his current difficulties could have been avoided.

Muhammad, an HI physical therapist, visits Bashar once a week to provide physical therapy. “We have fitted Bashar with orthoses to help him stand and walk. He can only walk a short distance at the moment, but it’s good. I think he will be able to regain full movement in his legs.”

Muhammad showed the family simple exercises that they do with Bashar every day. HI has also provided Bashar with an adapted wheelchair, a bed and a pressure-relief mattress to keep him comfortable, as well as blankets and a hygiene kit.

It may take another six months for Bashar to stand unsupported, but he is already seeing the benefit of proper care and, after a difficult period, he is happy to finally be on the road to recovery.

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Tom Shelton, communication officer for HI U.K., wrote this case study based on his field reporting in northern Jordan in late March 2013. The full names of beneficiaries and HI staff were not used for security reasons.

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Lubna, injured by a sniper attack, with her brother in Jordan. Photo courtesy of Stuart Hughes and Handicap International.

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In late December 2012, Lubna, a 24-year-old English literature student, was traveling early in the morning from Deraa in southern Syria to visit her parents in a nearby town. All of the other passengers on the public minibus were women.

Without warning, a sniper started firing at the bus from a distance. Terrified, Lubna watched as all of the women around her were killed. A bullet hit Lubna in the back, striking her spine.

“I remember everything,” says Lubna. “I thought I was going to die. I was in a lot of pain, and I felt like the life could go out of my heart.

“I was bleeding for three hours. People came to help, and they were shot at as well. I was crying ‘help me, help me,’ but they couldn’t help.

“I texted my sister, ‘I am dying, please forgive me.’ I didn’t think anyone was going to come and help me. I was shouting ‘I don’t want to die, I want to live.’”

Only Lubna and the bus driver survived the attack.

Lubna was eventually rescued and made it to the hospital, where she had surgery to remove the bullet, which had entered her back and was lodged in her chest.

“I still felt at risk even in the hospital,” says Lubna. “I was there for three days in intensive care.”

Before being shot, Lubna’s family had already spent one year living in fear, moving from place to place to escape the shelling and fighting. Just two weeks before the sniper attack, her family narrowly escaped a rocket attack on their neighborhood, which killed three of their neighbors, including a seven-year-old girl. 

After several days in the hospital, Lubna was taken to Jordan on a stretcher through an unofficial crossing. “The journey to Jordan was very, very painful and difficult. I was suffering from the gunshot at the time … They carried me across the border. It took about three hours.”

“I came to Jordan to find better health care, because it was not possible in Syria. There were few doctors in Deraa, as many had been killed.”

Lubna is now living in a small apartment with her family, but they can’t afford the rent for much longer. Her father Ibrahim, an English teacher, explains: “Before the movement of Syrian civilians here, a house like this was rented for 60 to 70JD (US$84.73 to $98.86 as of 17 September 2013) a month. Now we have to pay 200JD ($282.45 as of 17 September 2013) [not including electricity and water], and that is too much for us. I can’t find a job, and I don’t know how we’ll face the days that are coming.”

HI’s team is supporting Lubna’s rehabilitation and has provided her with a pressure mattress and a walking frame. With regular physical therapy, she has recovered some movement and is now able to get in and out of bed. Recently, she has even started to stand by pulling herself up by the windowsill. She does daily exercises to strengthen her legs. Despite the pain, she is determined to walk again.

Less than one month after her injury, Lubna’s husband divorced her. “When I fled to Jordan he told me that unless I came back in two days he would leave me. But it was impossible for me to go back at that time.”

Despite all that she has experienced, Lubna pushes herself to focus on the positive: “I have hope in my life, in the future, in my family. My greatest hope is to walk again, to return to Syria and to complete my university studies. I am very happy with my family.”

“Her smile will help her and will help us,” says her father. “The hope is the only way to live happy. If there is no hope, there will be no life. We live by the hope.”

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Tom Shelton, communication officer for HI U.K., wrote this case study based on his field reporting in northern Jordan in late March 2013. The full names of beneficiaries and HI staff were not used for security reasons. 

CISR Director Ken Rutherford is in Italy for a landmine symposium and will speak on Friday at the JMU–Florence campus to James Madison University students and the broader Florence community.



Miss Landmine

Miss Landmine

Ottawa urged to ratify cluster munitions treaty

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A poster for Handicap International’s “Fashion Victim” campaign. The group says some countries continue to use landmines and cluster bombs, which leave many innocent victims in their wake. (CNW Group/Handicap International)


They have been called “weapons of mass destruction in slow motion” and have killed or maimed hundreds of thousands over the past century. 

Today, landmine accidents claim about 12 lives per day in over 80 countries and territories around the world. There are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 landmine survivors globally—most of whom are innocent civilians who have lost limbs or suffer permanent disability from their injuries.

Anti-landmine group Handicap International Canada aims to change these grim statistics with its new “Fashion Victim” campaign, which raises awareness of the ongoing use of landmines and cluster bombs and the many innocent victims they leave in their wake.

Read more …

theclusterproject:

Portrait of Ayat from The Cluster Project.

This short animation is an incredibly moving portrait of a young Iraqi girl and a cluster bomb. Go to The Human Kind for other animations in this series.