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UXO injuries, deaths on the rise

Cambodian deminers prepare some of several hundred artillery shells and unexploded ordinance (UXO) for demolition near Siem Reap
Cambodian deminers prepare some of several hundred artillery shells and unexploded ordinance (UXO) for demolition near Siem Reap. AFP

UXO injuries, deaths on the rise

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.

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