Cambodia and the landmines

During the three decades of civil conflict Cambodia was involved in a war between Government and the Khmer Rouge insurgents. In consequence, heavy casualties were sustained on both sides; anti-personnel landmines in considerable numbers were used indiscriminately by the Khmer Rouge and the Royal government forces. Apart from those killed and wounded by gunfire in conventional battle, very large numbers of soldiers and civil population were killed and wounded due to the anti-personnel landmines.

While the hostilities finished in 1990 between the Khmer Rouges and the Official Cambodian Government, the effect of the war still remains. In 1997 Cambodia signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, (Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa 1997). However, millions of antipersonnel mines were dispersed all over the country. Thousands of poor farmers, men, women and children lost their legs or arms when looking for land to plant.

In the rural areas, the majority of the population depends on the field labour to survive and therefore the anti-personnel landmines victims and also the disabled persons live in very hard conditions: they cannot work in the field and the labours in the inhabited zones don’t have the adequate conditions for disabled people. Before this situation, the solution searched by these victims was to become pauper in the cities, facing the submission and the slavery that are current methods used by the persons that hired the victims. In some cases, this kind of situation leads to the desperation and suicide.