April 4th marked the 10th International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
The 2015 theme 'More than Mines' takes into account the types of explosive threats faced by war-torn communities and members and brings attention to the fact that disposing of explosive hazards is only one part of mine action work.
Landmines are not the only explosive hazards that pose a danger to civilians living in conflict and post-conflict settings; unexploded bombs, grenades, unsecured weapons and ammunition and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) also kill, injure and block access to healthcare, education and development.
Last year in Cambodia, we located and destroyed 6,514 explosive remants of war (along with 5,325 landmines) and were called out over 2,000 times to attend to deadly explosives found by the community. These items are especially dangerous to children because of their natural curiousity they collect the explosives and play with them.
In February 2014, three children were killed when they tampered with an unexploded 60-millimetre rocket that they found near their village in Kampong Chhnang province while herding cattle.
Thank you for your generous support that helps us remove 'More than Mines' in Cambodia to prevent these deadly accidents.
Thank you to our generous donors who helped remove landmines from the villages of Cambodia in 2014. We are now halfway to our project goal on GlobalGiving and every donation counts.
Last year HALO found and destroyed over 4,750 landmines in Cambodia, along with over 6,120 other explosive remnants of war (ERW). 275 minefields were cleared resulting in over 2,730 acres of land being returned to the rural poor for homes, farming, roads and schools. In the village of Banteay Ti Muoy, we have cleared 33 minefields between 2008 and 2014.
Here’s one story behind the statistics.
The David Center orphanage in Odtar Meanchey Province provides shelter, food and accommodation for 63 children. However, the agricultural land surrounding it is mined. Almost one quarter (22%) of mine/ERW casualties in Cambodia in 2014 were children. Their natural curiosity often leads them to pick up and play with dangerous items.
The orphanage manager, Mr. Bunna, said they were not aware of the danger that existed. Once HALO explained the risks Mr. Bunna told the children not to enter the hazardous area but even so they would sometimes sneak out and play there. During one such occasion, the children saw an item of UXO but fortunately left it alone and reported it to him.
A HALO Mine Risk Education (MRE) team has since visited the children to make sure they are fully aware of the dangers and stay off the land. HALO began clearance in July and over 11 landmines have since been found and destroyed. The clearance of this land will not only ensure the children’s safety and provide a greater area for them to play; it will allow Mr. Bunna to use the land for cultivation and grazing to better support the children.
Thanks again to all our donors and supporters worldwide who make our work possible.
We wish you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
In Banteay Ti Muoy, and the many other mine-impacted villages in Northwest Cambodia, not only are we saving lives but we are clearing minefields for families desperate for additional farmland.
In the village of Banteay Ti Muoy we currently have two teams working to clear one minefield that the local authorities prioritized to provide safe agriculture land for four families. In addition, the clearance will indirectly benefit 413 families who often transit through this area to access their rice paddies nearby.
In another vulnerable, rural community, Thlok village, in Northwest Cambodia, Mr. Sok lives with his wife, their three children and one grandchild. They moved up north in 2006 as they heard there was free land available. They did not know that the land would be mined.
On their small piece of land they grew cassava and some other vegetables but the safe area was too small to grow enough to feed their family. Once his daughter and her husband realized they had walked into the minefield and had to call for help to come and guide them safely away from the area. Very luckily they both managed to escape without causing any mines to detonate.
Now that the family's land has been cleared by HALO, Mr. Sok has extended his cassava cultivation. They can plough their land safely and produce enough crops to sell in order to support the family.
Thank you for helping to make this possible. Together we can make landmines history.
“My life has changed a lot since the HALO Trust came to clear mines. I am very happy.” Mr. Sena.
In northwest Cambodia, Sena, his wife and their five year old son lived surrounded by landmines for years. Unable to farm their land because of the mines, Sena cut trees in the forest on the border of Thailand to try and earn a living. This is a notoriously dangerous occupation as there is still a high concentration of mines in the border area. Generous donor funding allowed HALO to clear the family’s land and, once the area was safe, a local NGO began to train the community in agricultural skills. Sena learned how to look after chickens and has planted a vegetable garden on the cleared ground. Mineclearance saves lives and returns livelihoods.
Last month the Third Review Conference on the Mine Ban Treaty was held in Mozambique. Over 1,000 representatives of States and international NGOs met to discuss the global effort to end the suffering caused by landmines. HALO appealed to the delegates to aspire to make landmines history by 2025. It’s a global problem we know how to solve. In Cambodia, if we can keep our efforts focused we can get it done. In the first half of 2014, HALO Cambodia has made safe more than 170 minefields, finding and destroying over 1,825 landmines and 3,000 other explosive items.
Thank you for being a part of the global effort to make landmines history.
According to a report released by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, casualties from landmines and unexploded ordnance have remarkably increased in the first two months of this year. The country reported 40 casualties, 6 people killed and 34 injured, during the January-February period. This is up 90% from 21 casualties, 2 people killed and 19 injured, over the same period last year. Last Friday, two men were seriously injured in Battambang Province when an anti-tank mine exploded while they were plowing their farm.
This is why your support is so important. Cambodia has made substantial progress in clearing high priority minefields, destroying large quantities of landmines and ERW, and, most importantly reducing the number of casualties from a peak of over 4,000 in 1996. However anti-tank mine accidents, often causing multiple victims and fatalities, are increasing and demining rates remain outpaced by the strong demand for land. Mrs. Heam Chantol (33 years old) is a mother of two children and small farmer. A few years ago, her brother-in-law visited her home and during his visit he stepped on a mine resulting in the amputation of his foot. In order to support her family, Mrs. Heam Chanthol continued to farm her land until one day she too stepped on a mine. She was incredibly fortunate that, due to degradation, the mine did not function as designed and only smoke was released. After that she was too afraid to continue farming her land and had to look elsewhere to make ends meet. With support from our donors, HALO cleared the land and now Mrs. Heam Chantol is able to cultivate her crops safely to feed her family. The photo of her here shows multiple yellow sticks indicating where mines were found and destroyed by HALO within close proximity to her home. Together we can make landmines history, not some innocent person's future.
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