On Tuesday, May 30th, 2006, LSN - El Salvador announced the Network’s expansion into the southeastern province of Usulután. Usulután is the largest province in El Salvador, with a population of nearly 400,000. It has the second highest concentration of landmine victims (San Salvador has the highest).
There is extensive landmine contamination in El Salvador as a result of the 1980 – 1992 conflict between government forces and the chief opposition party, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) guerillas. There were 20,000 landmines laid in 425 minefields during that period. Since the end of the war, there have been over 9,700 landmine victims. Landmine contamination in rural areas is an ongoing problem. Children are often the most vulnerable, stepping on mines while innocently playing outside or collecting firewood.
El Salvador’s national healthcare system does not have the means to adequately address the needs of these war-affected people with disabilities. Those living in rural communities have to travel long distances to receive healthcare and are often times turned away.
LSN first established the El Salvador Network in May 2001 in the capital city of San Salvador to help landmine victims recover and thrive. Until the recent expansion into Usulutan, LSN operated in San Salvador and La Libertad, with six community-based Outreach Workers. To date, LSN–El Salvador’s peer support program has assisted over 647 landmine survivors and amputees. Such assistance includes providing psychological and social support, educating families and victims, facilitating access to medical care, and assisting with small business creation. LSN-El Salvador is an official registered member of CONAIPD, the National Board of Integral Attention to Persons with Disability.
The Network’s expansion into Usulutan is a way for LSN to deepen our services in El Salvador and respond to the needs of more survivors. There have been 239 landmine survivors identified in the province of Usulutan. LSN-El Salvador intends to initially make contact with 106 of those identified. Local Outreach Workers, survivors themselves, will reach out to these survivors who are in desperate need of proper medical and prosthetic care, psychological help, jobs, and social support. LSN knows that recovery begins when survivors realize they are not alone — there are others standing by them to offer help, guidance, and support.
Caption: Salvadoran veteran gets fitted for a new prosthesis at an LSN linked clinic.