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A regional watch – ICRC in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam

16-06-2006 Feature

The ICRC's regional delegation in Bangkok covers not only Thailand but also three countries in the region that are living a legacy of war: Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. A report on activities in the post-conflict period.


  A painful legacy in Viet Nam
ICRC / R. Sidler/ vn-e-00005

 It's sadly not surprising that one of the principal ICRC activities in the countries of the region is assistance to the thousands of people handicapped by mines and other explosives during the conflict and its aftermath. The ICRC is a major provider of orthopaedic services and appliances in both Cambodia and Viet Nam.  


 With the effects of conflict so deeply scored into the lives of people, the ICRC also emphasizes the need for greater respect for international humanitarian law. For this, it cooperates with the authorities and the military in the three countries, and supports various activities of the national Red Cross societies.  





 The ICRC supports efforts by the authorities to provide an estimated 60,000 disabled persons – including 36,000 victims of mines – with artificial limbs and support appliances. It helps the work of two physical rehabilitation centres and the manufacture of parts for limbs and appliances. ICRC also conducts field trips to provide some services such as repair and follow-up for people who have problems travelling.  


 Between January and December 2005, the ICRC in Cambodia:  
  •  helped physical rehabilitation centres in Battambang and Kompong Speu, which assisted nearly 8,000 patients;  
  •  examined more than 4,000 disabled patients in villages, repairing nearly 2,500 prostheses, appliances and wheelchairs;  
  •  managed and partially funded the manufacture of more than 20,000 parts and crutches at the national component factory in Phnom Penh;  
  •  individually visited 115 registered detainees in nine places of detention; provided hygiene items for more than 5,300 detainees;  


 It regularly visits more than 120 persons detained in connection with the past conflicts to monitor their treatment and the physical conditions of their detention. It provides material aid and technical expertise to improve hygiene and the supply of drinking water where needed.  


 The ICRC supports efforts by the armed forces to conduct a training programme in international humanitarian law. It provides funding and advice for the Cambodian Red Cross tracing service and landmine risk awareness programme.  



 The ICRC works with the Lao Red Cross Society to ensure that members of vulnerable population groups have access to adequate water supply and sanitation. In 2005, the two organizations constructed water supply systems and latrines for more than 600 households – about 3,000 people – in the Phu Khun district of Luang Prabang province.  


 The ICRC also seeks to raise awareness of international humanitarian law (IHL) among the armed forces and the national Red Cross. With the authorities, it is implementing a joint plan of action to strengthen IHL training in the Lao People's Army; and it is helping the Red Cross promote knowledge of the law and humanitarian principles.   


 Viet Nam  


 The ICRC works with the authorities to assist an estimated 75,000 amputees. Since 1989, it has supported government efforts to produce limb and appliance parts at the Ho Chi Minh City rehabilitation centre.  


 The ICRC's   Special Fund for the Disabled   is currently the largest provider of prostheses in Viet Nam; in 2005, it helped more than 3,000 amputees and produced some 3,600 limbs.  


 ICRC continues to be involved in raising awareness of international humanitarian law. In 2005, it provided technical support for the translation into Vietnamese of the main IHL treaties by the Ho Chi Minh political academy. The ICRC also provides training for the tracing service of the Vietnam Red Cross Society