Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - War ends for children when the last land mine is cleared



War ends for children when the last land mine is cleared

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kimhong and her mother, Thy, on a football pitch in Battambang province. Thy uses a prosthetic limb after losing a leg to a landmine several years ago. Photo supplied

War ends for children when the last land mine is cleared

Kimhong had never played football before, but when she was invited to join a game with the other children living around Stoeng Toch Krom Primary School in Battambang province near Cambodia’s border with Thailand, she joined in.

What made this invitation special was that the school’s football ground had until recently been contaminated by landmines, a legacy of Cambodia’s many years of internal conflict. “I wish there are more safe playfields, so that the other kids can also play with safety,” Kimhong says.

The conflict ended a few decades ago but the remnants of war still claim lives, and limbs. Children are most vulnerable. To clear that deadly legacy of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) scattered across the nation requires commitment, support and resources.

For Kimhong’s mother, Thy, it was a special day too. Thy uses a prosthetic limb after losing a leg to a landmine several years ago. That has affected the life of her family. For as long as Kimhong can remember, she has had to help her mother cook, clean, and do other housework chores after school.

That day, as Kimhong played football with her friends on the new pitch, Thy sat on the sidelines, beaming.

In Cambodia, clearing the land of mines is first and foremost about saving lives and protecting youth like Kimhong. It is also about creating places free from fear, and an environment that is peaceful and conducive to inclusive development.

Once cleared of mines, lands are released to local authorities, as was the case of the football ground, at Stoeng Toch Krom Primary School. More often they are handed back to farmers and their families, many who live along Cambodia’s border with Thailand. The area was the last Khmer Rouge stronghold and is still one of the world’s most heavily mine-contaminated areas.

Among the countries helping the Cambodian government clear landmines is South Korea. A long-time development partner for the Cambodian people, South Korea has become a high-income country in just over a quarter century, about the same time as the conflict in Cambodia came to an end.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
For children like Kimhong and her mother, this is a development story full of hope, peace and the opportunity for prosperity. Photo supplied

South Korea not only brings much-needed financial support but also contributes rich knowledge gained from its own experience of conflict recovery, as well as one of the world’s most remarkable transitions from low- to high-income country status.

The “Saemaul Undong”, or New Village Movement, was a key part of South Korea’s remarkable transition in less than a generation. This national movement was instrumental in improving conditions in rural communities as it strengthened social cohesion. It significantly reduced rural poverty by increasing household incomes, improving basic infrastructure and services, revitalising local communities and empowering women.

South Korea’s approach to mine clearance is not simply to maintain peace, but to build the foundations for prosperity. In Cambodia, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), South Korea has partnered with UNDP to support the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA). The initiative is placed within a larger context of village development, following the successful example of South Korea.

The Cambodian government made a mine-free Cambodia their 18th Sustainable Development Goal. In doing so, Cambodia firmly signaled that mine clearance is an integral part of the 2030 Development Agenda. That is a connection that is deeply understood in South Korea and makes the new village model especially appropriate here in Cambodia.

For children like Kimhong and her mother, this is a development story full of hope, peace and the opportunity for prosperity. It is a story that can only be sustained with continued support and resources.

Rho Hyunjun is country director of KOICA Cambodia. Nick Beresford is resident representative of UNDP Cambodia.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway