Over three decades of armed conflict has left Cambodia seriously affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance ( UXO), and kept poor communities impoverished by limiting their access to farmland. The Khmer Rouge, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), Vietnamese, and Thai militaries laid extensive minefields during the Indochina Wars, Vietnamese occupation, and factional fighting that ended in 1999. The 2019 Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reports that clearance of Cambodia’s anti-personnel mines has been challenged by “un-demarcated border areas, inaccessible areas, [and] competing development priorities and demands,” among other factors. Additionally, U.S. air and artillery strikes during the Vietnam War left behind heavy concentrations of UXO in the eastern and northeastern areas of the country along Cambodia’s border with Vietnam.
The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is a the civil society initiative providing research for the ICBL. That’s the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. This work is ongoing not only in Cambodia, but in other countries in Asia and Africa that have seen so much destruction during wars and conflicts. Maybe not so hard to believe when you think of the amount of explosive hardware that was buried as anti-personnel mines and dropped from skies. Terribly tragic for the people who still go into the rice paddies and rural farms to work. 2019 was the fifth year in a row with high numbers of recorded casualties due to the indiscriminate use of antipersonnel mines and antivehicle mines, including improvised types, as well as cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).
In 2019, at least 5,554 casualties of mines/ERW were recorded: 2,170 people were killed, 3,357 people were injured, and for 27 casualties the survival status was unknown.
In 2019, children accounted for 43% of all civilian casualties where the age was known. Men and boys represented 85% of all casualties for which the sex was known.
Massive antipersonnel mine contamination (defined by the Monitor as more than 100km2) is believed to exist in 10 States Parties: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Cambodia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Yemen.
The largest total clearance of mined areas in 2019 was achieved in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Croatia, and Iraq, which together accounted for 86% or all recorded clearance. The Covid pandemic has slowed removal of these mines and unexploded ordnance, but the work continues.