Victim Assistance

Last updated: 18 July 2018

Victim assistance action points

  • Intensify efforts to improve access to rehabilitationservices from remote and rural areas, including allocating resources to bring beneficiaries for rehabilitation and ensuring that transport is available.
  • Hold regular disability sector coordination meetings and link victim assistance coordination with the development of disability strategies.
  • Improve state support for psychological and social assistance, including peer-to-peer counseling and survivor-driven economic activities.
  • Coordinate the rapid implementation of recently adopted legislation as well as existing policies and planning that could hasten developments in the availability and accessibility of services.

Victim assistance planning and coordination

Government focal point

The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) Victim Assistance Unit

Coordination mechanisms

Technical Working Group on Victim Assistance (TWGVA) together with district and provincial focal points

Coordination regularity/frequency and outcomes/effectiveness

The NRA reported that coordination and collaboration through the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare with the Ministry of Health on

assistance to explosive remnants of war (ERW) victims increased[1]


The NRA unexploded ordnance (UXO)/Mine Victim Assistance Strategy 2014–2020


Lao PDR reported that there had been no changes since 2015 to the National plan and budget, including timeframes


Lao PDR has its own national Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), “SDG18: Lives Safe from UXO,” launched during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)Summit in Vientiane in September 2016. SDG18 targets include support to healthcare and livelihoods of UXO victims

Disability sector integration

The victim assistance strategy authorizes the NRA to cooperate with the National Committee for Disabled and Elderly People (NCDE) to develop a sector-wide strategy for persons with disabilities; with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to ensure adequate employment access; and with the Ministry of Health on the physical and psychological needs of cluster munition victims[2]

Survivor inclusion and participation

Representatives of the Lao Disabled People’s Association (LDPA), Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center (LDWDC), and Quality of Life Association (QLA)–Xieng Khouang province, actively participated in consultative processes and special events, including annual review meetings and ERW sector-wide working group meetings[3]

Latest victim assistance reporting

Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report for calendar year 2017


Statement on victim assistance at the Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties in September 2017[4]


Lao PDR has made a statement on victim assistance at each Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions since its entry into force


The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare holds primary responsibility for the needs of, and related services to, persons with disabilities through the NCDE. Service providers enter into memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the relevant state ministries responsible for the sector in which the NGOs will operate.[5]

International commitments and obligations

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) is responsible for significant numbers of cluster munition victims and survivors of other ERW, as well as landmine survivors, who are in need


In 2012, Lao PDR estimated that there were some 15,000 mine/ERW survivors still living, including approximately 2,500 survivors of unexploded submunitions[6]

Mine Ban Treaty


Convention on Cluster Munitions


Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol V


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)



In its initial report on the CRPD submitted in 2017, Lao PDR stated, “War with foreign aggressors has taken its toll on the lives and assets of the multiethnic people and had a heavy impact of the farmland and mountainous forest land used for foraging. 25% of the country is littered with unexploded ordnance (UXO). Between 1964 and 2008, a total of 50,000 people have fallen victim to UXO, of whom 30,000 died and 20,000 survived, 13,500 becoming disabled. These victims included women and children. The repercussions of the war, especially these UXO, have become a major obstacle for the Lao people and socio-economic development and constitute a cause underlying the underdevelopment and poverty of the Lao multiethnic people.”[7]

Laws and policies

A New Decree on Associations No. 238 of 2017, which replaced a 2009 law, was issued in August 2017 and came into effect on 15th November 2017. It was reported that under the new law, requested funding from foreign sources must first be approved by the government, resulting in longer time periods for accessing funds, or to adopt national self-fundraising practices.[8]

The National Health Sector Reform Strategy 2013–2025 aims to ensure universal healthcare coverage by 2025.[9]

Lao PDR reported that the government works together with the LDPA to organize training and seminars for court officials and other relevant bodies concerning the rights of persons with disabilities to access the justice system and procedures for assistance in the event of a problem or complaint.[10]

The Decree on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Decree No. 137, 2014) adopted alongside the Decree on the Organization of Operation of National Committee for Disabled People and the Elderly (Decree No. 232) was the primary relevant legislation.[11]

Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International, HI) continued to support efforts to establish strategic planning for implementation of the Decree on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at national and local levels. Thus, HI technically supported the NCDE and Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare in developing the policy framework for persons with disabilities in Lao PDR. The project aimed to conduct an inclusive process with persons with disabilities and representative organizations and 12 consultative meetings, in order to facilitate the development of the national disability strategy and its corresponding measurable action plan in 2017.[12]

Social protection programs support war veterans with disabilities unable to work, however, there were no social protection programs to support other persons with disabilities in similar situations.[13]

Major Developments in 2017–2018

Through the end of June 2017, World Education Laos (WEL) completed a multi-year the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project for the disability sector that began in 2014: Training, Economic Empowerment, Assistive Technology, and Medical and Physical Rehabilitation (TEAM).[14]

In 2017, USAID opened a call for implementers, in order to provide US$15 million in funding over a five-year period for services and support to the disability sector in Lao PDR.[15] The five-year USAID Okard project, managed and implemented by WEL, intended to improve and sustain the independent living and functional ability of persons with disabilities in three target provinces: Vientiane (the capital), Xieng Kuang, and Savannakhet. WEL is the lead implementing agency for the project, with support from partners including HI, the Ministry of Health, the Center for Medical Rehabilitation, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), Quality of Life Association (QLA), and Laos Disabled Peoples’ Association (LDPA). The project has three main components: health, economic empowerment, and stakeholder engagement. Each component is further broken down into key interventions that interconnect and mutually reinforce components and activities proposed in order to achieve the intended results.

Needs assessment

No new needs assessment was reported in 2017. A sector-wide assessment and data system was planned under the Okard project in 2018.

Medical care and rehabilitation

The ICRC trained Laotian medical staff in first aid and trauma management, particularly for injuries resulting from mines and ERW, with technical support from the Thai National Institute for Emergency Medicine.[16] Through WEL and Quality of Life at least 120 survivors received medical treatment; community first aid training continued.[17]

Access to rehabilitation services and follow-up consultations remained challenging for persons with disabilities living in remote areas. The Ministry of Health operates five physical rehabilitation centers for civilians and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare runs one for war veterans. COPE, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and others finance the provision of assistive devices and subsidize all physical rehabilitation services, including by covering transportation and lodging expenses for patients.[18] COPE assisted 225 ERW survivors with rehabilitation, including prosthetic devices.[19]

In 2017, there was only one qualified doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine in Lao PDR.[20] In June 2017, the ICRC and the Ministry of Health signed, and began implementing, a five-year agreement to strengthen capacities in prosthetics and orthotics and establish clinical and managerial standards for physical rehabilitation services in accordance with the ministry’s plan to improve the availability of rehabilitation services.[21]

HI worked on improving servicesat the five rehabilitation centers. This included supporting the design and implementation of a national rehabilitation strategic action plan and corresponding guidelines developed by the Ministry of Health; a more effective training program through the Center of Medical Rehabilitation and Medical Technologies Faculty, and establishing a management system. A national rehabilitation taskforce with five sub-taskforce groups was to be established.[22]

Social, psychological, and economic inclusion assistance

HI ran a project to support persons with disabilities, including survivors and their family members, with income-generating and livelihood activities.[23]

WEL and the QLA provided vocational training and economic support specifically for survivors. Survivors also received education scholarships through WEL. Through the QLA, more than 200 survivors received education scholarships and over 100 survivors were provided economic inclusion support, and in 2016, one particularly poor survivor also received a house and several others had repairs made to their homes.[24]

Victim assistance providers and activities

Name of organization

Type of activity


Centre for Medical Rehabilitation

Physical rehabilitation, community-based rehabilitation, prosthetics and wheelchair production: the only wheelchair producer in Lao PDR

Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE)

Capacity-building for health staff in prosthetics, orthotics, and physiotherapy through a network of five Ministry of Health rehabilitation centers nationwide; provided direct support for beneficiaries in collaboration with the Ministry of Health


Quality of Life Association (QLA) –Xieng Khouang province

Economic inclusion; information center; fundraising; education, peer support, and advocacy; immediate initial medical support to survivors through the War Victims Medical Fund (WVMF)


Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR)

Economic inclusion and livelihoods for persons with disabilities, especially for women with disabilities; accessible sports

Humanity & Inclusion (Handicap International, HI)

Capacity-building of the rehabilitation sector; economic inclusion; support to the Laos Disabled People’s Association (LDPA); awarenessworkshops for the dissemination of the national disability-inclusive health and rehabilitation strategy to staff of the Center for Medical Rehabilitation and provincial rehabilitation centers and the faculty of medical technology

World Education Laos (WEL)

Financial support for initial medical treatment and continuing medical care in seven provinces; medical services capacity-building; income-generation activities; education support; and psychosocial support and follow-up


Support to the physical rehabilitation sector


[1] NRA, “UXO Sector Annual Work Plan 2017 (Interim Update),” 19 September 2017.

[2] Statement of Lao PDR, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Working Group on Victim Assistance, Geneva, 9 April 2014.

[3] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H.

[4] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H; and statement of Lao PDR, Convention on Cluster Munitions Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, September 2016.

[5] Notes from Monitor field mission to Lao PDR, 11–12 June 2015.

[6] Statement of Lao PDR, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 12 September 2012; and Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for up to end of 2010), Form J.

[7] Initial Report of the Lao PDR on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD_C_LAO_1), 6 October 2017.

[9] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), “Annual report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 52.

[10] Lao PDR, Initial CRPD Report, “Article 13: Access to justice,” 2017.

[11] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H; and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), “Civil Society Organization Report to the Second Session of the Working Group on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013–2022,” New Delhi, 2–3 March 2015, p. 3.

[13] “Universal Periodic Review (UPR 18),” Stakeholders Report prepared by Lao Disability Network, Lao PDR, coordinated by LDPA, undated but 2014.

[14] WEL, “TEAM Laos Project Overview,” undated; TEAM, “Project Updates,” undated; and interview with WEL VAST, Vientiane, 12 June 2015.

[15] Federal Grants, “Disability Sector Support Activity in Lao PDR,” 16 June 2017.

[16] ICRC, “Annual Report 2017,” Geneva, 2018, p. 350.

[17] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H.

[18] ICRC PRP, “Annual report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 52.

[19] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H.

[20] TEAM, “Champion of Rehabilitation Medicine in Lao PDR: Associate Professor Dr. Bouathep Phoumind,” 26 April 2017.

[21] ICRC, “Annual Report 2017,” Geneva, 2018, p. 351.

[22] HI, “Countries we work in: Laos,” undated; and HI, “HI– Federal Information– Laos Country Card – 2017,” undated.

[23] HI, “Countries we work in: Laos,” undated; and HI, “HI– Federal Information– Laos Country Card – 2017,” undated.

[24] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form H.