Medical treatment

Teenage landmine victim in Ponnagyun Twsp struggles to afford medical treatment

A grade 8 student who lost a leg after stepping on a landmine in Ponnagyun Township, Rakhine State, is struggling to afford the medical treatment needed to recover.

Maung Oo Ba Maung lost his right leg and suffered serious injuries to his left leg after stepping on a landmine while searching for vegetables in the forest near his village of Ahtet Myat Hle in July 2021.

The 16-year-old has received medical treatment for his left leg injury and is facing financial difficulties buying medicine, according to his family.

“He lost his right leg and the right side injury is now recovered. But he must receive medical treatment for his left leg injury. Sometimes we couldn’t buy the necessary medicine because we didn’t have the money,” her older sister Ma Moe Hnin told DMG.

The young victim’s family makes a living from farming and struggles financially to pay for her treatment at a time when farmers in Rakhine State are facing economic hardship.

“I want to go to school once my injury heals,” Maung Oo Ba Maung told DMG.

Some international organizations and CSOs provided him with financial assistance before, but those sources of funding have dried up, according to his family.

Dozens of people have been killed and more than 100 others injured in encounters with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) during the two years of fighting between the army and the Arakan Army ( AA) in Rakhine State.

A ceasefire suppressing the once fierce conflict in Rakhine State has held for more than a year. More than 100,000 displaced people have returned home since the fighting ended, but tens of thousands more remain in displacement camps – many of them fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war made them reluctant to attempt the return.

A government program provides K200,000 to landmine victims, but not all receive compensation, according to concerned sources. A person disabled due to an encounter with a landmine said that NGOs and CSOs in Arakan should offer more help in rehabilitating landmine victims.

“CSOs and NGOs should provide psychological counseling to those who lose body parts after a landmine explosion. Organizations need to create jobs and secure livelihoods,” he said.

According to figures compiled by the Rakhine Ethnic Congress (REC), 149 people were injured and 54 killed due to landmine and explosive remnants of war explosions linked to the armed conflict in Rakhine State.