Asia - Pacific

Mine deaths up between Jan, June in Cambodia

Since recording began in 1979 - the year Khmer Rouge fell - 19,743 people killed by mines, other explosive remnants of war.

27.07.2016
Mine deaths up between Jan, June in Cambodia Since recording began in 1979 -- the year the Khmer Rouge fell -- 19,743 people have been killed by mines or other explosive remnants of war

By Lauren Crothers

PHNOM PENH

Twenty people have been killed in Cambodia by mines or other explosive remnants of war in the first six months of the year, up from 11 deaths in the same period last year.

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority said in its report for June that although the 49 casualties -- which include injuries as well as deaths -- recorded between January and June of this year marked an overall 27 percent decrease from 2015, 20 people were killed, 18 people were injured and 11 people required amputations.

Five casualties recorded in June happened when the victims were farming, clearing land, collecting food and making fire, CMAA said.

Prey Veng, Kampot and the northerly border provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Oddar Meanchey were home to seven of these accidents in June alone, and form part of the notorious, 750-kilometer (466-mile) K5 mine belt; also known as Cambodia’s “Bamboo Curtain”.

K5, which was laid primarily in the 1980s in a bid to seal Cambodia’s border and prevent the return of Khmer Rouge soldiers that had fled when Vietnamese forces overthrew them, is packed with approximately 3,000 anti-personnel or APN mines per kilometer. The belt averages only about 100 meters in width.

Since recording began in 1979 -- the year the Khmer Rouge fell -- 19,743 people have been killed by mines or other explosive remnants of war.

On Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Post quoted CMAA official Nguon Monoketya as saying that the data showed children were being killed when they found and played with ordnance.

He said seven children were killed between January and June of this year, compared to three over the same period last year.

The Post also quoted Matthew Hovell, the Halo Trust country director, as saying that internal migration near the Thai border could be attributed to the spike in deaths this year.

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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