Our Work in Cambodia
Our Work in Cambodia
In Cambodia the Foundation has proven, long-time partners in Cambodian Self-Help Demining (CSHD) and its affiliate organization the Landmine Relief Fund, a US-based charity created by US Army veteran Bill Morse specifically to fund Aki Ra’s work.
CSHD are accredited by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, and operate both demining and explosive ordnance disposal teams, as well as providing on-site mine risk education. Aki Ra, CSHD’s founder, has been clearing mines since 1993. To date, his organization has cleared almost 3 million square meters of land.
The Foundation has been working with CSHD and the Landmine Relief Fund since the 2000s. Their expertise will help your gifts go farther.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, Cambodia was in an almost constant state of war. The Vietnam War routinely spilled over the Cambodian border, and US bombers dropped some 540,000 tons of bombs in Cambodia in an attempt to cut off Viet Cong forces operating over the border.
During this time Cambodia’s own civil war began. In 1975 the Khmer Rouge gained control of the country and instituted the genocide commonly known as The Killing Fields. Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge and marking a new phase in the country’s civil war between a new Soviet and Vietnamese-backed government and the Chinese-supported Khmer Rouge.
Landmines were used in Cambodia prior to the Khmer Rouge, but the 1979-89 civil war saw their use surge. By the time a UN-brokered truce came into effect in 1991 some ten million mines were planted across the country, randomly and in marked fields. Landmines became the signature weapon of Cambodia’s civil war. In addition to guarding borders, minefields were used to expropriate farmland, guard against bandits, and re-laid when they subsided in the earth.
When the fighting ended, no records existed as to where mines were laid, and Cambodians have been suffering the consequences ever since.
Aki Ra is the founder of Cambodian Self Help Demining.
A former child soldier, he has devoted his adult life to helping Cambodia recover from decades of conflict. Aki Ra’s parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge, and from age ten to twenty he was conscripted by three different sides of Cambodia’s civil war. Like many child soldiers, one of his tasks was to plant landmines. When the UN arrived in 1991 he was hired to help clear mines—something he’s been doing ever since.
For years, Aki Ra demined on his own, with nothing more than a stick and some pliers. He estimates he’s personally located and defused more than 50,000 landmines. His work turned him into a local legend, and attracted the attention of Bill Morse and his wife Jill, who travelled to Cambodia to meet Aki Ra in 2003.
Since 2003, Aki Ra has worked with the support of Bill Morse and the Landmine Relief Fund. His humanitarian work now consists of three organizations– Cambodian Self Help Deming, The Cambodian Landmine Museum and Relief Centre, and The Rural Schools Village Program.
Since 1979, at least 65,579 Cambodians have been killed or injured by landmines or other explosive remnants of war. 19,723 were killed and 44,856 injured. 8,982 suffered amputation.
We simply don’t know how many people were killed or injured before then.
In the ’80s and ’90s, 2,700 Cambodians were killed or injured each year. Since 2010 that number has dropped to less than 200, but much remains to be done.
CSHD are accredited by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority.
CSHD EOD Teams operate primarily in northeast Cambodia, particularly the border provinces of Siem Reap, Banteay Manchey, and Oder Mancheay.
The Landmine Monitor is an annual report on the status of the Ottawa Treaty and mine action around the world, with individual sections on mine affected countries like Cambodia. You can access it here: http://www.the-monitor.org/en-gb/home.aspx
Landmines are a specific type of weapon that are hidden, usually in the ground, designed to kill or disable a person or vehicle that moves over or near them. Explosive remnants of war are pieces of ordnance like IEDs, bombs, artillery shells or grenades that either failed to explode in combat or were simply abandoned. Both remain dangerous long after fighting ends.
Entire communities benefit from the removal of landmines and explosive remnants of war. CLICK HERE to learn how mine action contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD is the detection, identification, evaluation, rendering safe, recovery, and disposal of explosive ordnance.
Mine Risk Education (MRE), aims to inform people living in mine affected areas about the dangers of landmines and other explosive remnants of war in order to help them stay safe. It can include public information campaigns, training, and community engagement, among other efforts.
CSHD EOD Teams conduct formal MRE classes once a week, and on an ad-hoc basis as they respond to calls.
Yes! Albania, Algeria, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, France, Gambia, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Jordan, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Suriname, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, Venezuela and Zambia have all completed their obligations under Article 5 of the Ottawa Treaty.
A state that is mine free has destroyed “all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control.” States that sign on to the Ottawa Treaty agree to become mine-free within ten years of the Treaty coming into force in their country.
The Canadian Landmine Foundation is a lean organization. 85% of your gift will go directly to demining and explosive ordnance disposal. The remaining 15% will be used for administrative costs including project oversight and evaluation.
Since its inception in 1999, the Canadian Landmine Foundation has contributed $3.7 million to mine action projects around the world including clearance, victim assistance, and mine risk education. The Foundation has supported successful projects in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Vietnam.
Read about our past projects HERE.