Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Landmine/UXO victims higher than in 2001

Landmine/UXO victims higher than in 2001

Landmine/UXO victims higher than in 2001

Statistics from last year show no improvement in the numbers of people killed and

injured by landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO). And experts warned the final

figures were likely to show a higher casualty rate than 2001.

The Cambodia Mine/UXO Information System recorded that 828 people - more than two

a day - were killed or injured by mines and UXO between January and December 2002.

One in three were children.

Ray Worner, project advisor to Handicap International-Belgium (HI), said the final

figure would increase by around 30 people as information came in from outlying provinces.

Worner said the most worrying trend was the increase in the numbers injured by UXO.

Hunger and poverty, he said, were driving villagers to dismantle and sell metal from

UXO, or use the explosives for fishing.

"It is mostly for their livelihoods," he said. "A lot of the people

... were soldiers and they all have some training. These guys don't see it as dangerous.

Then they pick up something and it goes bang."

Of the 468 people killed or injured by UXO, more than half were tampering with the

device when it exploded. Worner said it was extremely difficult to change such behavior,

since villagers were reluctant to stop using explosives that improved their often

difficult lives.

"When you have the problem that villagers don't tell anyone, what can you do?"

he asked. "That is the mindset of the villagers. It can be looked at as a development

issue. When they have food, then they won't use the explosives."

He said another reason for the expected increase was that many people were settling

on new tracts of land.

"[There are] a lot of new villages," he said. "As they expand they

are going into heavily mined land."

But changes to the way some demining operators work could in future years cut the

number of victims. HI, in conjunction with the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAC),

recently helped introduce Mine Risk Reduction Teams to high-risk areas.

Heng Ratana, deputy director-general of CMAC, said the idea was to raise awareness

in the communities so that demining teams only cleared areas regarded as essential

to villagers' lives and livelihoods.

"The overall aim is to reduce the casualty rates in high casualty areas,"

he said. "In order to do that we have to provide multi-skilled teams [which

will] raise awareness within the community, introduce permanent marking, and do limited

mine clearance."

CMAC began deploying teams last month to a targeted 500 villages in the most affected

provinces of Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. It hopes to reduce mine casualties

by as much as 50 percent by 2005.

Battambang province remained the worst hit last year with 182 casualties. That, however,

was down from 206 the previous year. Nationwide 145 people were killed. Another 210

were so badly injured that they required amputation, while the remaining 473 were

wounded but did not lose a limb.

Eleven of the 24 provinces reported more incidents, and eleven had fewer. Men accounted

for 61 percent of the casualties, women 6 percent, and children 33 percent.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the