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2016 brings spike in landmine deaths

People carry a man through a field in a hammock earlier this month after he stepped on a landmine in Battambang province. Photo supplied
People carry a man through a field in a hammock earlier this month after he stepped on a landmine in Battambang province. Photo supplied

2016 brings spike in landmine deaths

The number of people killed in landmine incidents nearly doubled in the first half of the year, with 20 deaths compared to 11 for the same period in 2015, though injuries declined by almost half, from 55 to 29, according to the Cambodia Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA).

Nguon Monoketya, CMAA’s deputy director of socio-economic planning and database management, said part of the increase was borne by children.

“Data that our working group gathered suggests many kids are killed by playing with ordnance,” Monoketya said. The report shows seven children have been killed in the first half of the year versus just three for the same period in 2015.

The five provinces with the most casualties (deaths and injuries) are located in the country’s northwest region, accounting for 71 per cent of the country’s 49 incidents.

Banteay Meanchey leads the list with nine accidents resulting in four deaths, and is followed closely by Battambang (eight and three), which saw its number of incidents plummet from 23 this time last year.

Matthew Hovell, country director for demining NGO Halo Trust, said a reason for the increase in deaths is an internal migration happening near a road being built along the Thailand-Cambodia border, “which contains the densest anti-personal mine area in Cambodia. It’s bringing poor people looking for land, and they have no experience with landmines.”

The border area is the site of the infamous 1980s K5 defence project under the People’s Republic of Kampuchea regime, which saw mines liberally strewn in a bid to prevent the Khmer Rouge from regaining lost territory.

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