Remove landmines from a village in Cambodia

by The HALO Trust
Vetted
During clearance, students met at a teacher
During clearance, students met at a teacher's home

Every child deserves to learn in a safe environment, but when plans were made to extend the schoolhouse at Ponleachey village in Cambodia, the construction team found themselves in need of more than a spirit level. Unaware that a villager had already found two Type 72A mines near the site, the building work came to a halt when a woman was seriously injured after accidentally hitting a mine with her shovel.

Terrified there may be more undiscovered mines in the ground, parents kept their children at home and out of danger. Thankfully we were able to respond to an urgent request to clear the land. The site was cleared of landmines and the children have returned to school. Building work recommenced shortly after and the new school building is now complete.

Thanks to the support of donors like you we can remove the threat of landmines so families can safely send their children to school without risk or fear.

If you would like to keep up to date with HALO’s work across the globe, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter on our website

Have suggestions for how we can get the message out about our important work? If so, please contact us at mail@halousa.org. We'd love to hear your thoughts. 

A deminer working at Ponleachey school
A deminer working at Ponleachey school
A child studies in Cambodia
A child studies in Cambodia

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Deminers working on a minefield in NW Cambodia
Deminers working on a minefield in NW Cambodia

With increasing demand for agricultural land in Cambodia, internal migration in Northwest Cambodia is especially high. People eager to start cultivating their land must wait for HALO to remove landmines. In some cases, people who are new to an area are unaware of the threat of landmines and begin building homes and cultivating the land at high risk. With frequesnt migration in the Northeast corridor, along the K5 minebelt, the need for mine clearance and risk education is important as ever.

Mrs Suon has lived with her family of five in Chub Kokir West, Oddar Meanchey Province, since July 2015. Before that she lived in the next nearest village, Chub Kokir East. She moved because she was offered free land, but she was not aware that the area was on the K5 minebelt and is extensively mined.

While her husband was building their house he found one anti-personnel mine. Suon is worried about her children’s safety living in the minefield, especially because HALO found mines very close to her house. HALO began clearing the minefield in December 2015, finding a total of 88 anti-personnel mines so far. In addition to the current housing, there are plans to build more houses on the land. There are 45 families living on, or due to live on this minefield once clearance is completed.

Removing even one landmine can make the world of difference to families living under the threat these hidden killers. Contributions from donors like you enable HALO to help clear mines from homes just like Mrs Suon Mom's.

Have any suggesitons for how we can spread the word? Let us know! Email us at: mail@halousa.org,  we'd love to hear your thoughts. 

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Mrs. Huor with her grandchildren
Mrs. Huor with her grandchildren

In Cambodia, much of the rural population's livelihood depends on agriculture. With landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) contaminating the country-side, farmers are deprived of vital resources to pull in higher incomes.

Pre landmine clearance assessments conducted by HALO over the past year show that approximately 70% of HALO beneficiaries live in poverty or are ‘near poor’, living on less than $2.30 a day. With agriculture being the single largest use for cleared land, mine clearance is needed not only to ensure safety but also to grow livelihoods and pull families out of poverty.

Mrs Huor (pictured above) has lived in Boeng Ta Srei village in Banteay Meanchey for 19 years with her husband. Aged 61, she looks after her 7 grandchildren while their parents work in Thailand. Mrs Huor knew that the land the family owned contained landmines so she stopped her children from farming it. As a result, they were unable to earn an income in the area and turned to day labour in Thailand, leaving their children with Mrs Huor and her husband.

Mrs Huor and her husband used to cut trees for wood on the land but they discovered mines. Each time her husband would move the mines and sometimes he burnt them, putting the family at risk. After this, she paid a local person to de-mine her land but she only had enough money for them to work on a small area. Her husband grows rice on that area of land, but it hasn't been enough to sustain the family.

HALO worked on this piece of land for 4 months, during which time we found and destroyed 5 landmines and 6 other explosive items. Mrs Huor is very happy that the HALO Trust has cleared her land as now her children can return home from Thailand and farm it - allowing them to spend more time with their children.

Thanks to supporters like you, we can remove the threat of landmines so families can safely put their land back to productive use.

If you would like to keep up-to-date with HALO’s work across the globe, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

Have any suggestions for how we can get the message out? If so, please contact us at mail@halousa.org. We'd love to hear your thoughts. 

- Ti, a 13 year old student from Trapeang Tav School in Northwest Cambodia shares what it means to have landmines removed from his school and playground.

Generous contributions from supporters like you enable HALO to take on projects such as the clearance of Trapeang Tav School. This year alone, HALO has cleared upwards of 10,000 landmines and explosive items, making safe roughly 3,000 acres of land. This includes the 30 landmines and 4 explosive items removed from Ti's school

Thank you for your kind and generous support that makes stories like these possible. Your contributions not only save lives but also restore livelihoods. In the words of a beneficiary in Cambodia, "Since HALO's clearance has finished there have been many benefits. We have road access, help from NGO's, I have been given rice seed and water jars. I can also get more land. I am very happy here. I am not afraid at all as there are no more mines to be destroyed where I live." - Touch Rin from Ou Savy village, Otdar Meanchey Province. 

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy New Year.

Do you have any ideas about how HALO can spread the word? We would love to hear your thoughts: mail@halousa.org.

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Jay and her family
Jay and her family

Cambodia is home to one of the most dangerous and densely laid mine-belts in the world, the K5. Residents Jay and her family know only too well how dangerous the K5 can be.

“My husband and I have three sons, and we’ve been living here since 2010. We’re from Siem Reap but we couldn’t afford to buy land there, so when a friend said that we could get free land in Damnak Kakaoh (a village in Banteay Meanchey Province) we decided to move.”

Unfortunately, in rural areas of Cambodia, ‘free’ or untouched and unclaimed land can be a tell tale sign of mine contamination. When new and unfamiliar to an area, or when desperate to cultivate crops for income, individuals and families will expand into dangerous unclaimed lots of land not fully knowing the risks they’re taking.

“Last year, my little sister and two of my sons went off to pick vegetables and my sister trod on a mine. Our boys were walking close behind her and they were both hurt badly too. We knew it was a mined area, but we thought there would be a lot of vegetables to pick because no one ever goes there - and we told the kids to be careful and walk close behind my sister. We took my sister and our sons to a free hospital in Thailand for treatment, but my sister lost her leg anyway and both of our sons had deep cuts from the shrapnel all over their bodies. Still, they were lucky. We can’t wait for HALO to finish working here so nobody else gets hurt. We’ve told our children never to go into the mined areas again, and we’ve told all the other villagers as well.”

Generous contributions from donors like you help families like Jay’s live safe and productive lives. The destruction of even one mine can make a world of difference to a family, and with your help we have so far eliminated over 220,000 landmines in Cambodia. However, there is much more work to be done and we’re committed to finishing the job.

The HALO Trust is proud to announce that last month Mozambique was officially declared mine-impact free! HALO began operations in Mozambique 22 years ago, when Mozambique was considered one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. With continued support and dedicated mine clearance efforts on the ground, the threat of landmines can eliminated for good in Cambodia, too.

Do you have any ideas about how HALO can spread the word? We would love to hear your thoughts: mail@halousa.org

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Organization Information

The HALO Trust

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.halotrust.org/​
Project Leader:
Amy Currin
Program Officer
San Francisco, CA United States

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