Nearly 20,000 people killed by mines, UXOs since ‘79

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UXO units found by CMAC in Preah Vihear province in August. CMAC

Since January 1979 to September 2021, there were more than 60,000 people falling victim to explosive ordnances – over 50,000 to landmines and more than 10,000 to explosive remnants of war (ERW) – with nearly 20,000 killed.

According to a report released by the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA), there were a total of 64,954 victims during the period – 51,145 were victims of landmines and another 13,809 of ERW.

Of the total, 19,807 were killed, 36,080 injured and 9,067 disabled.

Among them were 52,619 male victims, or 81 per cent; 6,087 boys under 18 years old; 4,792 women; 1,393 girls under the age of 18; and 63 unidentified victims.

From January of this year to September, there were 28 explosive ordnance accidents resulting in 34 deaths and injuries. The casualties decreased by 38 per cent over the same period last year, when there were 55 victims.

Of the 34 victims, 19 suffered from landmines and 15 from ERW, with 10 killed, 18 injured and six paralysed. Among the 34 victims were 29 men, four boys under the age of 18 and one woman.

CMAA said that for the first nine months of this year, the Cambodia Mine Victim Information System team disseminated education messages about the risk of explosive ordnance to 3,124 people living in areas of high risk. It had also provided information on the location of 89 munitions to mine operators to remove and destroy them.

CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch said the body will pursue demining operations despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He thanked countries and donor communities including the US, Japan, China, the UK, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, UNDP and UNICEF as well as foundations of civil society organisations, among others, who have always supported the mine action sector in Cambodia.

He also called on friendly countries and donor communities to continue to work with the government in demining efforts to develop and reduce the dangers of landmines and ERW in Cambodia by 2025, in line with the government’s long-term plan for a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.

“This generous contribution is a demonstration of the remarkable achievements that have improved the health, safety, security and wellbeing of vulnerable Cambodians and people living in a mine-affected community,” he said.