Forty people were injured or killed by landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the first two months of 2014, a figure nearly twice as high as that recorded in the same period last year, a recent report from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre shows.
In its report, CMAC recorded six deaths and 34 injuries in January and February this year, a 90 per cent increase in casualties from the first two months of 2013, which saw two people killed and 19 injured.
Heng Ratana, director-general of CMAC, ascribed the increase in casualties to recent explosions each involving multiple victims, noting that the number of actual explosions in the two-month period remained roughly the same. According to Ratana, incidents mostly – and increasingly – injured children.
“They collect the explosives and play with them,” he said.
Last month, two children were injured along with their aunt when they stepped on
a landmine in Banteay Mean-chey province, near the Thai border. In February, three children were killed when they tampered with an unexploded 60-millimetre rocket that they found near their village in Kampong Chhnang province while herding cattle.
Cambodia’s UXO was left behind after decades of war, and the Kingdom’s northwestern provinces – such as Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Preah Vihear – remain the country’s most dangerous areas for UXO, according to the Cambodia Mine Victims Information System.
UXO claimed the lives of 22 people in 2013, down from 43 in 2012.