No one can know exactly how many landmines were planted in Cambodia,
or how many remain today; even those who placed the mines cannot give
an accurate count, since records were not kept of the number and
locations of the mines. Estimates generally range between 4 million
and 10 million, most of which are still in place.
The website of Physicians for Social Responsibility has an interesting
table of landmine data by country. The site says that of Cambodia's 4
to 6 million landmines, only 83,000 landmines have been cleared.
444,018 UXO (unexploded ordinance) have also been cleared in Cambodia,
according to the site.
Physicians for Social Responsibility: Fact Sheet: Landmines
"Demining organisations working in Cambodia would require hundreds of
years to rid the country of the millions of mines and unexploded
ordnance which still litter rural areas after decades of civil war...
Some 3,000 square kilometres of Cambodia are marked as mined
territory, and the leading demining groups in the country are clearing
only a small fraction of the land per year, said a representative of
the government's Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC).
'With CMAC it's possible to demine about 10 square kilometres per
year,' said Khem Sophoan, Director General of CMAC. 'Halo Trust and
the Mine Advisory group together demine about 2 square kilometers per
year. By this figure, I can say that the mines and unexploded ordnance
(UXO) can be cleared out of Cambodia in 200 to 300 years,' he said.
Council for a Livable World: Clearing landmines in Cambodia may take
more than 200 years
"There are about 6 million landmines in Cambodia today and for every
250 persons, one is a landmine victim."
Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE: Newsletter May-June 2001
"Cambodia is the most disabled country in the world. One out of every
236 people has stepped on a landmine.There are 4-6 million landmines
still in the ground and everyday a civilian steps on one. Many of the
victims are women and children who step on the mine while gathering
firewood, farming or tending cows. Half of the victims die, due to
lack of medical facilities in Cambodia. The survivors are faced with
the difficulty of starting a new life. Most victims are farmers and
it is virtually impossible for an amputee to farm."
ThinkCentre: Landmine Survivors Support Campaign.
"It is estimated that one out of every 236 people in Cambodia is an
amputee. This is a surprisingly low figure, given that there are more
landmines planted in Cambodia than there are people (an estimated 10
million mines and a population of 8.6 million)."
Federation of American Scientists" Landmines: A Global Scourge
"Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world; some
estimates run as high as ten million mines (in a country of 11.5
million people), though the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC)
estimates 4 to 6 million mines. Cambodia is also littered with other
kinds of unexploded ordinance (UXO), left over from half a million
tons of bombs dropped on Cambodia by the United States in the late 60s
and early 70s. The figures here are not known, though there is an
estimated "dud" rate of 10 percent for UXO (Cambodia Daily website).
There are many different kinds of bombs and mines: US material from
the "Vietnam" war era, and Chinese, Soviet and eastern block made
materials left from the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s and a decade of
civil war that followed in the 1980s."
Northern Illinois University: Landmines in Cambodia
"In a hospital based survey in Cambodia, trauma was the fourth most
common cause of blindness and was responsible for 4% of bilateral
blindness.12 Of those, most were males in the 15 - 35 year age group
and 82% of the trauma related blindness was the result of landmine
blasts. With an estimated 4 - 10 million landmines in Cambodia,12
trauma is likely to remain a significant cause of blindness in
Cambodia for some time to come."
British Journal of Ophthalmology: Vision impairment in the Pacific region
Regarding the matter of who put the mines there, the sad answer is
"Some of them were from the war but a lot of them are from after the
war. During the war, the landmines were more localized. But right
after the war, when people were trying to escape across the borders or
trying to go back home, the Pol Pot regime planted more mines to keep
people in place. Right after the war, when people were going home to
go to their lands, they were stepping on landmines at a rate of about
500 people per month. And now the numbers are still 50 to a 100 people
every month... During the war a lot of people had put landmines in
Cambodia, such as U.S. troops, Vietnamese troops, the Cambodian
government and the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge put a lot of landmines
on the border to prevent people from going to Thailand and to prevent
people from coming in. If you saw the movie The Killing Fields, it
shows as people tried to escape Cambodia after the war, they were
stepping on mines. Pol Pot called the mines his 'silent sentinels of
death' and his 'eternal soldiers."
Asian Week: Land Mines: Still Killing in the Fields
"Three decades of war in Cambodia have left scars in many forms
throughout the country. Unfortunately, one of the most lasting
legacies of the conflicts continues to claim new victims daily. Land
mines, laid by the Khmer Rouge, the Heng Samrin and Hun Sen regimes,
the Vietnamese, the KPNLF, and the Sihanoukists litter the
countryside. In most cases, even the soldiers who planted the mines
did not record where they were placed...
The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as
many as four to six million mines and unexploded ordinances in
Cambodia... While the Khmer Rouge were the worst offenders... the
blame extends beyond the warring factions. Their patrons... the
Chinese, the Soviets, the Americans, and a host of smaller nations...
continued to supply the weapons with callous indifference to the
effects of their actions. The CMAC reports that mines found in
Cambodia have been manufactured in the US, China, Vietnam, the former
USSR and East Germany, the former Czechoslovakia, India, Chile, South
and North Korea, Thailand, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, Bulgaria, the
former Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Poland."
Mekong Network: Landmines in Cambodia
Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "* million landmines" + "cambodia"
Google Web Search: "landmines+ + "cambodia" + "khmer rouge"
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