Over the 42-year period from 1979 to 2021, there were 15,289 people in Battambang province who were killed, disabled or injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), according to Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou.

Lou provided the figure as he accompanied Senior Minister Ly Thuch – who also serves as first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) – to inspect a minefield in Dounba commune’s Kouk Roka village of Kors Kralor district on November 24.

Lou noted that Battambang province was a frontline battlefield for over two decades of war and a big portion of its land was covered by landmines, UXO and explosive remnants of war (ERW), all of which have had deadly consequences for the area’s residents and the province’s development.

Lou added that a lot of the landmines and ERWs were scattered among inhabited areas and land cultivated by farmers and they continued to threaten people’s lives.

According to Lou, in Battambang province the exact figures on victims of landmines, UXO and ERWs from 1979 to 2021 was 15,289 – 12,350 people to mines and 2,939 to other causes – with 3,859 killed, 8,794 injured and 2,636 permanently disabled.

“In October of 2021 alone, there were nine victims, seven from landmines and two from ERW,” he said.

Lou said the province has employed five different demining operators in the past: Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), Mines Advisory Group (MAG), HALO-Trust, Cambodia Self Help Demining (CSHD) and Mine Clearance Unit of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance (NPMEC).

Today, however, there are only three demining operators working in the province – CMAC, MAG and HALO-Trust.

According to the report of the provincial mine action plan working group, operations to clear mines and ERW in Battambang started in 1992 with 46,599ha cleared resulting in the destruction of 202,451 anti-personnel mines and 3,990 anti-tank mines along with 113,422 ERW and 3,973 UXO.

The report further states that the size of the area suspected of having mines and ERW in Battambang province that remains in need of clearance is 96,605ha.