Landmine Victims

October 20, 2012 Cambodia 2 Comments 9,947 Views

Landmine Victims – Accidents And Injuries In Cambodia.

Cambodia is one of the countries we love returning to. Each time we visit, new buildings are built, fast improvement of roads is going on, cities get a brighter look and more modern cars drive along the streets. But some things simply don’t disappear from the cruel past so quickly.

There are people who were really unlucky, who unwittingly stepped on a hidden danger – a landmine. Even nowadays not all areas in Cambodia and Laos are cleared of landmines. It’s a long and dangerous process and it will take another 10 to 20 years to declare Cambodia UXO (unexploded ordnance) free.

The sad truth is, that even today about 250 people step on such a device each year. Very often the victims are children who play in the fields, while not realizing that hidden dangers lure beneath them. In many cases, one dies right on the spot because the next hospital is far away and often there’s a lack of proper infrastructure to treat such traumas. If your survives such incident, the scars stay forever; a lost leg is the most common injury. In most cases, these people are no longer capable of taking on a job or continue the work they had. Therefore, you’ll see many people with bad disabilities begging in the streets, in front of market entrances, hotels or restaurants.

We’ve come across many landmine victims during our travels through Cambodia. The country and its people have faced many unbearable situations, which gives us the chills when thinking about it … There’s one story that still sticks as if we heard it yesterday: During our first visit back in 2006, we drove up to Angkor Wat with a local taxi driver. He showed us the area and knew a lot about the countries history. He told us about the time when the Khmer Rouge rose to power and the genocide of approx. 2 million Cambodians took its course. His entire family was slaughtered during the Pol Pot regime as well … What’s the appropriate way to react if someone tells you a horror story like that? He said it in a way as if he had made peace with history. After all, what else could he do? Still, the scars on the outside might heal but it will take more than one lifetime to forget …

Human skulls at the Killing Fields in Cambodia.
Human skulls at the Killing Fields just outside of the capital city, Phnom Penh..
The landmines in Cambodia were placed by different factions clashed during the Civil War in Cambodia in the 1970s. They were placed in the whole territory of the country. Cambodia has some 40.000 amputees, which is one of the highest rates in the world.
The landmines in Cambodia were placed by different factions clashed during the Civil War in Cambodia in the 1970s. They were placed in the whole territory of the country. Cambodia has some 40.000 amputees, which is one of the highest rates in the world.
Founded in 1997 by ex-child soldier Aki Ra, the Landmine Museum in Angkor Wat tells the story of his rise from a 10 year old fighter in the Khmer Rouge to his present place as an internationally recognized hero.
Founded in 1997 by ex-child soldier Aki Ra, the Landmine Museum in Siam Reap tells the story of his rise from a 10 year old fighter in the Khmer Rouge to his present place as an internationally recognized hero.
Even today there are still about 200 landmine victims every year. Very often the victims are children who are playing in the fields while not being aware of the hidden danger that lures anywhere in this otherwise beautiful country.
Even today there are still about 200 landmine victims every year. Very often the victims are children who are playing in the fields while not being aware of the hidden danger that lures anywhere in this otherwise beautiful country.
The Museum tells the story of landmines in Cambodia and the country's continuing efforts to rid itself of the aftermath of over 35 years of warfare. Here you can see landmines up close, find out how they work and how you can help Cambodia and the rest of the world in the on-going efforts of clearing these weapons from the face of the earth.
The Museum tells the story of landmines in Cambodia and the country’s continuing efforts to rid itself of the aftermath of over 35 years of warfare. Here you can see landmines up close, find out how they work and how you can help Cambodia and the rest of the world in the on-going efforts of clearing these weapons from the face of the earth.
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“Landmine Victims – Accidents And Injuries In Cambodia.”

  1. Thanks for this story. I have just returned from Cambodia and was deeply moved by what I saw and heard. It is a wonderful country with the delightful people. Like your driver our guides’ family had suffered greatly at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and like your driver he showed bitterness, just bemusement as to why the perpetrators have not been punished. We were further enlightened of the dire medical care by two doctors we met doing outreach surgery in different parts of the country and a Mercy team worker from Phnom Penh working with the destitute there trying to educate them about the dangers of selling their children…Then Amnesty International told me about the protesting women that had been imprisoned with out a fair trial.

  2. Hi Liz!
    Thanks for your comment and insight!
    We’re still suffering from WWII and this war ended 68 years ago and the Pol Pot regime has only ended in 1979, therefore Cambodia is still suffering a lot from those days – yet somehow they’re managed to overcome this madness faster than we have…
    Best, Nisa

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