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CAMBODIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999



Cambodia, home to 10 million people and the fabled Angkor Wat temple, is also “home” to millions of landmines. War has injured the country socially, culturally and economically and the effects are visible in many ways but perhaps most poignantly in the number of children, men and women wearing prostheses or riding wheelchairs.

Mines laid by all factions in the Cambodian conflict continue to maim and kill civilians and military and make agricultural land unsafe. In 1998, 1,249 known new casualties occurred. More than 644 square kilometers of land is known to be mined, and another 1,400 square kilometers is suspected to be mined. In a country where 85 percent of the population is dependent upon agriculture or related activities, such a contamination represents a massive restriction of Cambodia’s economic base. However through the Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC), and the non-government organizations that work alongside it, the people of Cambodia are tackling this legacy of conflict.

Mine Ban Policy

Cambodia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, but has yet to ratify. The delay in ratification can largely be attributed to political events in Cambodia following the signing of the treaty: the general election in June 1998, attempts by political parties to form a new coalition government, street demonstrations and disputes about the credibility of the general election. A new government was finally sworn in on 25 November 1998. Throughout this period the National Assembly met for a minimal number of days and passed little legislation.

In the meantime, the Cambodia Mine Action Center has translated the Mine Ban Treaty into the Khmer language and drafted a domestic law banning use, production, and trade of antipersonnel landmines. It would prohibit civilians, civil servants, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), military forces and the National Police from using antipersonnel mines in any circumstances, except for training purposes. The law would give the Cambodia Mine Action Center responsibility for destroying mines and for coordination of mine clearance organizations inside Cambodia. The law also outlines punishments for those who possess or use landmines on Cambodian soil.

Article 26 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states: “The King shall sign and ratify international treaties and conventions after a vote of approval by the National Assembly.”[1]

On 29 January 1998, the Mine Ban Treaty and the draft Landmine Law were presented at the Council of Ministers and recommended for the list of legislation to go before the National Assembly in the coming months. [2] It is unclear how long this process will take. On 14 August 1998, during a march for peace at Siem Reap, King Norodom Sihanouk called for ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty.[3]

The Cambodia Mine Action Center has advised the government of its reporting obligations under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty and work on this will commence in the near future.[4]

Cambodia was one of the early supporters of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel landmines. On 2 October 1994 Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia, issued a declaration calling for a law against the use of antipersonnel landmines, the destruction of existing stockpiles, and a request to donor countries for demining support.[5] At the same time he began a series of personal donations to the work of the Cambodia Mine Action Center which by the end of 1998 totaled US$13,000.[6]

First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh announced at an international donors meeting on 11 March 1994 an immediate ban on the import and laying of landmines in Cambodia.[7] In August 1994, Ieng Mouly, the Chairman of the CMAC, announced the government’s intention to legislate a ban on the use of landmines. No timetable was given for the legislation but he proposed the interim steps of criminalizing the re-mining of demining sites, ensuring that new minefields are marked and banning sales of mines to civilians.[8]

In January 1995, the Cambodian delegation to the governmental experts meeting in preparation for the Review Conference of the Conventional Weapons Convention (CCW) and its Landmine Protocol called for a comprehensive ban on landmines.[9]

On 2 June 1995 Samdech Chea Sim, High Representative of His Majesty the King, reiterated the position of the Kingdom of Cambodia at the 1995 NGO Landmine Conference in Phnom Penh:

We call for severe punishments on the use and the laying of landmines, as well as for the outlawing of those who use and lay land mines. We appeal to all mine-producing nations to stop this production and to destroy all the existing arsenals of landmines. We call for the ban of sale and shipment of landmines. At the same time, we call for immediate cessation of new mine planting and for the immediate destruction of all landmines in the hands of the Khmer Rouge outlaws. In this spirit we are the fighters for a mine free Cambodia and a mine free world.[10]

At the closing ceremony of the same conference the Co-Minister of Defense, Lieutenant-General Tea Banh made a statement that the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces “fully and actively” supported “all kinds of efforts” to reduce the dangers caused by antipersonnel landmines.[11]

Draft landmine laws were written in 1995 and 1996 but never became law because of political changes in Cambodia at that time. The contents of the most recent Landmine Law are similar to that of the 1996 draft law. No legislation has yet been passed in Cambodia in relation to antipersonnel landmines.

It should be noted that during this period in which Cambodian leaders expressed strong support for a ban on antipersonnel landmines, there continued to be numerous reports of use of mines by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces against the Khmer Rouge.

Cambodia has been an active participant in the Ottawa Process from the beginning, attending the October 1996 strategy conference in Ottawa and all the treaty preparatory conferences in 1997, endorsing the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, and taking part in the three weeks of treaty negotiations in Oslo in September 1997. It voted in favor of the December 1996 U.N. General Assembly Resolution calling on states to pursue vigorously an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines, but was absent from the votes on the pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1997 and 1998.

More recently, on the occasion of the Phnom Penh International Forum on Demining and Victim Assistance, 26 October 1998, Samdech Hun Sen, Second Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, stated:

We Cambodians are also proud that while the Khmer Rouge continued the war, the Royal Cambodian Government has ordered the army not to lay any landmines. Last year the Cambodian Royal Government has drafted a law forbidding the use or possession of landmines in Cambodia, because the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as the people of Cambodia, as well as the rest of mankind hope that our Cambodian Assembly could proceed with its work to approve this draft law as soon as possible.[12]

On the same day, 26 October 1998, Ieng Mouly, Chairman of the CMAC and Minister of Information, made the following statement:

Cambodia is totally committed to ban the use, stockpiling, and transfer of landmines. We were among the first signatories of the Ottawa convention. For the convention to take effect, the new National Assembly will have to ratify in the future. The National Assembly will have also to adopt a law on the ban and on the destruction of stockpile of landmines, a law that the current government has already drafted. This is to prevent new mines being planted. At the same time, we continue to mobilize our efforts to clear, as fast as possible, many million of landmines that are hiding in the soil of Cambodia.[13]

On 25 March 1997 Cambodia ratified the amended CCW Protocol II on landmines.[14] In an interview in February 1999, CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly stressed that the government is against anything that dilutes the Mine Ban Treaty and will continue to promote all aspects associated with this treaty. [15]


Despite the millions of deadly mines in Cambodian soil, the government of Cambodia has manufactured only one kind of antipersonnel landmine, the KN-10, a Claymore-type mine. However, there are countless reports of homemade or improvised mines being produced across Cambodia by various actors. Cambodia manufactured the KN-10 in the early 1970s.[16] It is a directional fragmentation antipersonnel mine, similar to the Vietnamese MDH-10 and former Soviet MON-100 mines. The KN-10 is typically command detonated, however, it can be used with a tripwire, and is often found attached to a tree or similar item.[17]

Improvised or homemade mines are made by a variety of people and for a variety of purposes. Civilians make such mines for property protection (e.g. land, houses, village, bridge, and animals), for fishing or for settling scores in neighborhood disputes. The most recent report of such use was Rattankiri province, in the northeast of Cambodia, where poachers are trying to catch tigers with homemade landmines. Poachers buy explosives and detonators from middlemen, who are often the people commissioning them to kill the tigers. Each mine uses about 2 kilograms of explosive and costs less than US$20 to make.[18]

Since the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty Khmer Rouge soldiers continued to manufacture improvised landmines in small factories in the northwest of the country, though production is believed to have ceased now. Sources known to the Landmine Monitor researchers have met men who worked in these factories.[19] CMAC is charged with destroying all improvised mines and a technical adviser will visit the factory areas in order to devise safe means to destroy these mines. It is also believed that in some refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border Khmer Rouge soldiers forced civilians to produce landmines.[20]

As of February 1999, there is no concrete evidence of continued landmine production by any Cambodian group.


Since the early 1970s, many landmines have crossed the borders of Cambodia, though it is difficult to know which mines were imported by the Cambodian government, by opposition forces, and which were simply brought to Cambodia by foreign armies. (See list below of antipersonnel landmines encountered in Cambodia). It is known that Cambodia imported from the United States 622,458 AP mines, nearly all of them M18A1 Claymore mines, from 1971-75.[21]

Since King Sihanouk’s 2 October 1994 landmine declaration, Cambodia has maintained a formal position against the import or export of antipersonnel landmines.[22] In an interview on 17 February 1999, the Deputy Commander in Chief of RCAF and Chief of Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun stated that the government was no longer importing landmines, and that he was unaware of any such trading in Cambodia.[23]

An informal survey of local markets notorious for the sale of weapons found that antipersonnel landmine were no longer for sale.[24] There are of course isolated cases. In 1998, a member of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines in Sisophon was approached by a trader in Phnom Malai, Banteay Meachey province. He asked if a buyer could be found for his forty landmines.

The Cambodian government is not known to have exported antipersonnel mines in the past.

It is widely believed that antipersonnel landmines are clandestinely traded by groups or individuals through Thailand to the Burma border, but there is no formal evidence of such transfers.


On 17 February 1999 RCAF Deputy Commander in Chief Lieutenant General Pol Saroeun formally stated that the Cambodian government no longer had stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines.[25] Between 1994 and 1998 the government destroyed 71,991 antipersonnel mines. The following table shows the numbers of landmines destroyed by the RCAF.[26]


These landmines were destroyed by explosion, individually and in groups, as they were found. Cambodia received no financial assistance for this process.[27]

The relatively small number of AP mines destroyed--and reported by the military to be the entire stockpile--stands in stark contrast to previous estimates of Cambodia’s stockpile of more than one million mines.[28]

The Cambodia Mine Action Center has retained less than one thousand antipersonnel landmines for training. These are kept in the regional headquarters and the training center in Kompong Chhnang. CMAC usually uses copies of landmines for training purposes.

It is widely believed that there are caches of mines in different parts of the country, left over from years of conflict in Cambodia. These mines are believed to be under the control of soldiers or village security, businessmen, or simply left undiscovered in the forest. Landmines are sometimes kept by individual villagers for fishing, property protection or settling scores. No records have been kept of such stockpiles and the Cambodia Action Center will undertake an information gathering process in relation to this issue in the next year.[29] Lt. General Pol Saroeun stated that any stockpiles which are found by the RCAF would be destroyed.[30] It is also widely believed that stocks of mines belonging to the Khmer Rouge still remain in cave areas in Thailand.[31]


Since the signing of the Ottawa Treaty on 3 December 1997 there have been reports of new use of antipersonnel landmines in Cambodia. Fighting broke out in O’Smach, Otdar Meanchey province, O’Beichoen, Banteay Meanchey province and Samlot district, Battambang province, and all sides of the conflict sustained many landmine injuries.[32] It is unknown, however, whether these injuries were caused by newly laid mines, or old mines. There is no concrete evidence to prove there was new use of landmines, but many observers consider it highly likely. Lieutenant General Pol Saroeun stated that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces had not laid new mines.[33]

Funcinpec opposition forces under the command of Nhek Bun Chay controlled a small piece of land near O’Smach on the Thai/Cambodian border. It was literally ringed with a kilometer of landmines. Landmines were believed to be the primary weapon in their arsenal and were used to buy time while negotiations continued with the government.[34]

In the case of Samlot, defecting soldiers and their families mined and booby-trapped their villages as they retreated to Thailand in September 1997. They used mines recovered while clearing paddy fields and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) made from rockets and grenades. In the same district in the months that followed Division 16 (previously of the RCAF, then defected to the resistance forces) laid landmines to protect mobile headquarters.[35]

During October 1997 Khmer Rouge radio claimed that they would continue to exercise their right to lay landmines. During 1998 the Khmer Rouge was under extreme military and political pressure and used both landmines and IEDs to protect themselves from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.[36]

At the time he signed the Mine Ban Treaty for Cambodia in Decebmer 1997, Foreign Minister Ung Huot stated, “Some press reporting can be misleading. Recent suggestions of newly laid mines in fact seem only to be a few buried improvised explosive devices. We can take a little comfort in that the need to use such crude devices shows that the resistance forces no longer have access to manufactured landmines.”[37]

It is widely recognized that individuals continue to use landmines for fishing, for the protection of property and for settling scores. There have also been cases of police and poachers using mines.

On 10 August 1998 in Beoung Veng, six kilometers south of Phnom Malai, Banteay Meanchey, police surrounded a forest with mines in order to capture a murderer who had hidden there. The man emerged from the forest stepped on a mine and the police shot him. He died.[38] On 27 January 1999 in Ratanakiri province, homemade mines were used by poachers for catching and killing tigers. Tiger bones are highly sought by Vietnamese traders.[39]

Antipersonnel Mines found in Cambodia [40]

Name of Mine
Producing Country
KN – 10
M – 62
M 14
U.S, India, Vietnam
M 16A1
U.S, India
M 18A1
US, Chile, South Korea, Iran
MBV – 78- A1
MBV- 78- A2
MD- 82- B
MDH – 10
MDH- 2
Former Soviet Union, Bulgaria
Former Soviet Union
Former Soviet Union
Former Soviet Union
Former Yugoslavia
Former Yugoslavia
Former Yugoslavia
Former Soviet Union, China, Iraq
Former Soviet Union
Former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Bulgaria
China, North Korea, Former Soviet Union, Former East Germany
Former Czechoslovakia
Former East Germany, China
Bulgaria, Poland
Type 66
Type 69
Type 72
China, South Africa
Type 72B

The Landmine Problem

After 30 years of conflict Cambodia is among the most mine/UXO affected countries in the world. In 1998, seven years after the 1991 peace agreement, mines and UXOs caused more than 1,200 casualties.[41] More than 644 square kilometers of land is known to be mined, and another 1,400 square kilometers is suspected to be mined. About 148 square kilometers of land has been cleared thus far. The great majority of mined areas are located in the provinces along the Thai-Cambodia border where most of the fighting occurred since 1979. The eastern provinces are mostly affected by UXOs as a result of the Vietnam War, though there are also some mined areas. A recent U.S. State Department report estimated the number of mines in Cambodia at 4-6 million.[42]

CMAC does not yet have an exact figure of the number of families affected by landmines. However, most of the rural communities living along the Thai-Cambodian border are affected by mines in various ways. There is a shortage of land for settlement, for agriculture, and it is difficult to the rehabilitate rural infrastructure (schools, road, irrigation systems). Landmines also restrict safe travel and income-generating activities such as gathering firewood, and threaten the security of children.

According to the World Food Program (as cited by CMAC), there are still over 110,000 Internally Displaced Peoples who are either waiting to resettle or have just returned to their village of origin. In most of cases these villages of origin are either mined or very close to suspected areas. There are also 37,000 refugees still living in Thai refugee camps who are currently returning to heavily mine infested areas in Samlot, Samroung and Anlong Veng.

There has never been a systematic Level One Survey of the mine problem in Cambodia, but a great deal of suspected and confirmed areas are registered in the Cambodia Mine Action Center Database. During the UNTAC period (1991-3), information was collected on the location of around 1,900 suspected mined areas. CMAC has collected and verified reports of suspected areas, and recorded them in the database since 1992. In early 1999, CMAC plans to start a systematic Level One Survey to assess the extent of the mine/UXO problem throughout the country, and develop a National Demining Plan. This survey will contain a socio-economic component, which will collect information on the number of people affected and the socio-economic potential of the contaminated areas.[43]

The information recorded to date in the CMAC Database is as follows:

Reported (suspected) mined areas: 572 fields covering 1,404 square kilometers

Verified mined areas: 790 fields covering 533 square kilometers

Marked mined areas: 402 fields covering 111 square kilometers[44]

Based on the CMAC Database register, the verified/marked mined areas are characterized as follows:[45]

Priority 1
Land to be used for resettlement
265 fields
Priority 2
Land to be used for agriculture
764 fields
Priority 3
Land to be used for community development
106 fields
Priority 4
Land to be used for infrastructure
57 fields

1192 fields

Mine Action Funding

The Cambodia Mine Action Center is the government demining agency for Cambodia. It receives funding from the Cambodian government, other governments, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations who act as custodians for government funds. CMAC’s annual project costs are US$12 million. This does not include advisory support or in-kind donations.[46] From 1994-1998, cash contributions to CMAC totalled $63 million. In-kind contributions totalled millions more; the U.S. alone has provided $10 million in in-kind donations.[47] The breakdown of CMAC’s expenditures are as follows: mine clearance 90%; mine verification 7%; mine training 2%; mine awareness 1%.[48]

Most of the funding has been given to a special Trust Fund for Cambodia established by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), “Assistance to Demining Programs in Cambodia.” From December 1997 through December 1998, $9.14 million was received into the trust fund.[49] Contributors included: Netherlands (Dec. 1997) $2.4 million; Sweden (Dec. 1997/June ‘98) $2.6 million; Denmark (Jan. 1998) $878,000; Japan (Feb. 1998) $1 million; Australia (June 1998) $1.7 million; Finland (April 1998) $520,000; South Korea (Nov. 1998) $25,000. Thus far in 1999, New Zealand has contributed US$100,000, Japan has pledged U.S.$900,000, and Belgium has pledged 30 million Belgian francs to the UNDP Trust Fund for Cambodia.[50]

From 1993 to 1998 the Royal Government of Cambodia donated approximately U.S.$1 million to the Cambodia Mine Action Center.[51] In addition to this financial support the Royal Cambodian Government has donated 59 hectares of land in Kompong Chhnang province for the CMAC training center and land for the CMAC headquarters in Phnom Penh. The government has granted CMAC tax-free status, which has an estimated value of at least U.S.$2 million dollars.[52] All donations were given for the purposes of humanitarian demining by the Cambodia Mine Action Center.

The Cambodia Mine Action Center receives three kinds of support from other governments and non-governmental organizations: financial, advisory and in-kind support. For example, Norway contributes money to the UNDP trust fund, but also funds technical advisors through the NGO, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). The United States does not provide money to the UNDP trust fund, but has provided millions of dollars in in-kind support in the form of trucks, explosives, cars, demining equipment and so on. Other countries fund bilateral projects. Sweden is funding a three-year program to establish a mine detection dog program in Cambodia. Finland is funding a two-year project for mechanical demining by funding the testing and perhaps the operational development of two mechanical demining flails. [53] Donor countries are listed in the following table.

Contributions from Donor Countries to the Cambodia Mine Action Center, 1994 -1998[54]

Financial Support in Cash (US$)
Technical Advisors
Australia (1994 – 98)
10.21 million

Belgium (1997)
0.82 million

Canada (1994 – 98)
2.83 million

Denmark (1993, 96-98)
4.15 million

Finland (1998)
0.52 million

Pope John Paul II (94)

King of Cambodia*

Japan (1994/96/98)
6.3 million

Norway (1994/95/96)
1.96 million
Yes, provided through Norwegian People’s Aid

New Zealand (93-97)
0.54 million

Netherlands (93, 96-98)
7.76 million

Switzerland (1997)
$ 67,000

South Korea (1998)
$ 25,000

Sweden (1995-98)
8.83 million

United Kingdom (93-96)
4.119 million

Bilateral in context of Trust Fund (95-99)
USA (1994)

Leadership Training and in kind donations valued at $ 10 million.
Germany* Dir.CMAC.97
1.6 million

European Union*
5.3 million
Yes, provided through Handicap International

UNDP/CARERE* (93-2000)
4 million
Capacity building

2 million

1 million

UN Volunteers*

4 volunteers CMAC
4 x $35,000

* Not donated through the UNDP Trust Fund

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance operations in Cambodia are coordinated by CMAC. In addition to its own demining platoons, mine marking teams, EOD teams, and mobile mine awareness treams, CMAC coordinates NGO demining organizations--Mines Advisory Group, Halo Trust, and Norwegian People’s Aid.

Total land cleared in Cambodia to date is 148 square kilometers. The CMAC database indicates that this has included land for resettlement (54.4%), agriculture (44%), infrastructure (1.2%), and economic development (0.4%).[55]


In 1998 CMAC cleared 11.5 square kilometers of land.[56] CMAC currently conducts major demining operations in seven provinces:

Demining Unit 1 – Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap

Demining Unit 2 – Battambang,

Demining Unit 3 – Kampot, Kampong Speu,

Demining Unit 4 – Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom

It conducts other mine/UXO clearance activities in an additional five provinces. Mine and UXO clearance teams, Community Mine Marking Teams, Mine Verification and Survey Teams and Mine Awareness Education Teams are active in Kampong Chhnang, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal, and Takeo.

All employees involved in demining operations in Cambodia are selected locally. The expatriates work as Technical Advisors dealing with demining operations, explosive ordnance disposal, verifications, mechanical mine clearance, training, mine detection dogs, financial and logistics techniques.[57]

Mines Advisory Group (MAG)

MAG Cambodia began its operations in October 1992. Today the organization operates five demining teams, seven Mine Action Teams (MATs) and two EOD teams. The MAT concept has been recently developed by MAG Cambodia. MATs primarily focus on clearing small plots of land for community use, for example around pagodas, water sources, clinics, schools and for resettlement purposes. MATs comprise one supervisor, 12 deminers, one Trauma Care trained medic and a driver. The team can be transported in one vehicle, which gives the team increased mobility and flexibility. Each MAT member is primarily deployed as a deminer. However to provide an integrated response to the mine and UXO problem faced by a community, each deminer is trained in a secondary skill such as Surveying and Marking, Mine Awareness, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and basic trauma care. MAG currently conducts operations in six provinces: Battambang, Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, and Siem Reap.[58]

Funding for the Mines Advisory Group totalled $2.4 million in 1998. Contributors included the UK government (DFID), Australian government (AusAID), UNICEF, World Vision International, Church World Service, EZE, Lutheran World Federation, FinChurchAid/FIWIDA, DanChurchAid/DANIDA, and UNICEF.[59]

HALO Trust

HALO Trust has been working in Cambodia since 1991. HALO currently has two base locations in Thmar Pouk and Siem Reap and two satellite locations in the towns of Samrong and Anlong Veng. HALO’s activities in Cambodia can be summarized as: Mine clearance, Survey, Marking, Limited Mine awareness, Route proving, Promotion of development in remote areas.

HALO currently employs 560 local staff and expatriate Technical Advisors. In addition to the mine clearance teams in each location, a UXO call out team is prepared to provide rapid response to requests from civilians, government, non-government and International Organizations. In 1997 HALO conducted a trial use of an armored tractor fitted with a Bush cutter. HALO says they were so successful five units are now deployed and operating in Cambodia with a further five on order and planned to be deployed by mid-1999.

During 1998 HALO converted from the traditional Two Man One Lane to One Man One Lane system (OMOL), which HALO states has doubled the number of demining lanes for the same running costs with a significant improvement in productivity per lane. In early 1998 HALO conducted an investigation on land use of all sites cleared by HALO between 1992 and May 1998, and found that over 90% of land cleared by HALO had been used for purposes it was intended for when clearance took place, and that less than 1% of cleared land had been repossessed by the military.

Beginning in March 1999 all sites cleared by HALO will be revisited and the socio-economic template developed by the CMAC planning unit will be applied to each of these sites and a consolidated report generated. HALO has regular meetings with both CMAC and MAG to ensure no duplication of effort occurs and there is a two-way flow of information regarding survey, clearance and technological developments.

HALO is currently funded by ECHO (European Community Humanitarian Office), the governments of the UK (DFID), Ireland (DFA), Finland, United States (State Department), and Japan (Embassy), UNDP/CARERE, and the NGO Association to Aid Refugees/Japan.[60]

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)

NPA’s clearance effort in Cambodia began in 1992. NPA currently runs two major projects, which could be defined as humanitarian mine action. Five Technical Advisers are involved in the process of improving the technical side of mine clearance, while empowering CMAC to develop into a self-reliant, sustainable organization. NPA also runs a project to help landless poor to settle on demined land. In addition, it gives support to the Cambodian School for Prosthetics and Orthotics, and has set up a light engineering factory in Phnom Penh, employing mine victims in the production of demining equipment. NPA’s budget for 1998 was $1.43 million, including $905,000 for Community Development; $460,000 for Technical Assistance to CMAC (demining); and $65,000 for the School of Prosthetics.[61]

Areas Cleared

Since 1992, CMAC has maintained records of areas cleared. The records can be accessed from the CMAC Operations Branch or Database Unit.[62]

As at 11 December 1998:

CMAC [63]
No. areas
Sqm Cleared
46, 069, 599

As at 30 November 1998:

MAG [64]
No. areas
Sqm Cleared
3, 341,215

As at 14 December 1998:

No. areas
Sqm Cleared
9, 843,729

As at 14 August 1998:

No. areas
Sqm Cleared
National Army
Local People

Reconstruction and development of cleared areas

CMAC Community Liaison Officers have conducted socio-economic assessments in 60 mined areas cleared by CMAC. The assessed areas constitute 25% of the total number of areas cleared, and 20% of the total surface area cleared, by CMAC. Thus they are not necessarily representative of what may later be found as the CMAC socio-economic efforts continue. However, there are interesting features of the data collected so far.

The proportion of land under dispute is quite limited -- only 4%. However, without proper coordination and cooperation, CMACs efforts in areas previously administered by the Army and from which the civilian population was displaced will be made difficult by the potential for land disputes.

Assessments of 60 cleared mined areas showed that 1,559 families have benefited from the land cleared: 46% IDP families and 54% local families.[67] Out of the total 1,559 beneficiary families, 700 (54%) have used the land for resettlement, 213 (14%) were already settled on the land cleared and 646 (41%) are cultivating it. The higher percentage of families using land for resettlement in Battambang (66%) and Banteay Mean Chey (48%) is due to the return of Internally Displaced People to their villages of origin. This proportion will increase significantly as the remaining assessments are made in the areas opened since the Khmer Rouge defections in 1996. The average agricultural land cleared used by one family is 0.8 hectare, ranging from 0.4 to 1.1 .The average housing plot used by one family is 1,376 square meters. It should be noted that housing plots in rural areas are not just used for building homes but also for cultivation of vegetable and fruit gardens.[68]

Assessments of 83 mined areas planned for clearance in 1998 and 1999 indicated that 6,300 families will benefit from the land cleared: 60.5% IDPs families and 39.5% local poor families.

This issue has been of concern to a network of NGOs who work in mined areas. During June 1998 a group of NGOs met in Battambang province and issued a statement that included an analysis of the situation and recommendations. That statement was adapted with experience from other NGOs and sent as part of the NGO Statement To The 1999 Consultative Group Meeting On Cambodia, Tokyo, 25-26 February 1999.[69]

Agencies working in development and reconstruction of mine affected communities, following mine clearance, in Cambodia include Norwegian People’s Aid, Lutheran World Service, Jesuit Refugee Service, Church World Service, World Vision, Action Nord Sud and CARERE.

Mine Awareness

Despite the 1.1 million people who have received mine awareness education, it is evident given the number of accidents that result from tampering with mines that many people lack or have incorrect knowledge about the dangers of mines/UXO, especially children. An Information-Needs survey planned by CMAC to take place next year will provide more details about this issue.[70] CMAC is responsible for the national strategy and for coordinating all awareness-raising efforts.

Mine marking is a crucial form of mine awareness. CMAC has two kinds of teams involved in marking mined areas. 13 Mine Marking Teams (MMT) mark verified mined areas of high priority. Another 13 Community Mine Marking Team (CMMT) mark priority areas and do small scale clearance of minefields in remote villages.

However, effective exclusion of civilians from suspected areas requires more than just marking. Mine awareness programs and the active participation of local authorities play essential roles in modifying the behavior of villagers in suspected mine areas. Though there have been improvements, villagers driven by economic necessity often go to the dangerous areas.

There are three lead agencies in the area of mine awareness education. They include:

CMAC – 12 teams, mass media campaign, billboards, NGO Campaign;

MAG – 8 teams, billboards;

MATT- awareness integrated into World Vision’s development activities.[71]

Other development agencies in mined areas have integrated mine awareness into their programs. None of the programs in Cambodia rely on training village people as awareness educators. Rather, each organization employs Awareness Teams, typically with four educators in each, visiting two to five locations a week (villages, schools, development projects, etc.)

Over the past five years, more than 1.1 million people have received mine awareness education, including more than 423,000 in 1998 alone.[72]

1994: 59,817

1995: 121,678

1996: 216,649

1997: 281,916

1998: 423,434

Total: 1,103,494

Landmine Casualties

The Mine Incident Database Project reports that there were 1,249 landmine casualties in 1998.[73] Of those, 177 people died. The number of mine incidents per month is not constant over time. Over the past years the same trend has been observed: the numbers go up during the dry season and down in the wet season. Increased military activity and forest gathering activities during the dry season explain this trend. In 1998, the monthly incident figure ranged from 180 in January to 54 in October.[74]

The Mine Incident Database Project provides a clear picture of the landmine casualty situation in Cambodia. The database resulted from close collaboration of various agencies, chief among them the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), which agreed to host the database project and sponsor data gathering teams in four provinces, and MAG, which deployed data gathering teams in five provinces. UNICEF has been the project’s principal donor . Handicap International provided technical advisors, and field staff were responsible for setting up the data base along with training, coordinating and monitoring of CRC data gathering and data entry staff.

The Mine Incident Database Project has prepared graphs and diagrams highlighting the overall situation of landmine casualties in Cambodia. There is inadequate space to present them in this report, but they include:

1998 Mine Incidents: Casualties ranked by Province

Long Term Casualty Trends by Year 1979 -1998

Short Term Trend: Total Reported Casualties by Month, 1996-8

Total Casualties: Deaths vs. Injuries 1998

Casualties by Age Group 1998

Military vs. Civilian Casualties 1998

Casualties by Gender 1998

Incident by Occupational Category (Civilian vs. Military) 1998

Incidents by Occupational Status (Mine) 1998

Incidents by Occupational Status (UXO) 1998

Analysis of Casualty Types and Type of Amputation 1998

Accident Territory – by Mine/UXO 1998 [75]

The figures of the Mine Incident Database Project are not yet comprehensive, as there are still key areas where CRC has limited information on mine incidents (former Khmer Rouge areas along the Thai-Cambodian Border). However, it is planned to base data gatherers in these areas in 1999. Statistics experts suggest an additional 20% probably reflects a more accurate figure.

To date it has been impossible to have exact statistics on the total number of people disabled by landmines and still alive in Cambodia today. At least 14,500 people have died as result of landmines. At least 24,410 survived mine injuries initially.

Survivor Assistance[76]

Most Cambodian disabled are among the very poorest in a very poor country. Health costs for landmine injuries can completely bankrupt the family. Recent studies have shown that the average expenditure in health care is approximately $20-33 per capita/per year. Most Cambodians are paying far more than they can afford for generally poor quality, ineffective care.[77]

Most support for landmine survivors is provided by non-governmental organizations. The government provides a small pension to soldiers who become landmine victims. The pension ranges from 30,000 -180,000 riels per month (approximately US$8–50). It is often months late or collected by the commander of the division and never paid to the victim or the family.

The Cambodian government has developed a health plan with operational districts, which consist of referral hospitals and health centers. These health centers are planned to be within ten kilometers or two hours walk of the population they serve. In 1998 surgical facilities are available at the provincial level for landmine injuries. A special hospital for victims of conflict run by the NGO EMERGENCY exists in Battambang. Military hospitals caring for soldier victims include those in Battambang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Figures provided by the Ministry of Health detail patient intake for hospitals in 1998. They indicate that of the 177 people who died from landmine injuries, only 21 died in hospital. Of the 1,249 victims, 735 received hospital teatment.

NGOs in Cambodia do not differentiate between funds used for care and other services for landmine victims and those used for victims of other disabilities.


Five international organizations have taken responsibility for the production and distribution of prosthetics in Cambodia. They include the American Red Cross, Cambodia Trust, Veterans International, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Handicap International. There are some fifteen workshops located throughout Cambodia. In 1998 the total number of prostheses produced was 5,858, an average of 484 per month.

The National School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (NSPO) is located in Phnom Penh, sponsored by American Friends Service Cambodia, American Red Cross, Cambodia Trust and Veterans International, and operated by Cambodia Trust. The School has the capacity to train 12 students per year in a three-year curriculum course, which has international accreditation. The School’s director estimates that 100 technicians are required to required to meet Cambodia’s minimum needs. In 1997 six students graduated, followed by seven graduates in 1998. The School is also developing a role in the region, as two students from the Laos joined the program last year.

The Foot Factory is a private business with technical assistance from Handicap International. It uses local materials to produce vulcanized rubber, solid ankle, and cushioned-heel prosthetic feet. The feet are purchased by Handicap International and given to agencies. The ICRC – funded and operated Components Factory supplies Prosthesis and Orthotics parts to the majority of the workshops in Cambodia.


Many of those who lose both their legs in a landmine accident require a wheelchair for their life and work. Three organizations produe wheelchairs in Cambodia: Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia, Veterans International, and Association to Aid Refugees--Japan. Together in 1998 they produced a total of 1,581 chairs. Assessment of wheelchair users, training in wheelchair use and follow up is also done by these agencies. A national plan for wheelchair distribution has been partially successful. ICRC, ARC, HI, CT and various NGOs and individuals purchase and distribute wheelchairs to the handicapped. There is a policy among wheelchair producers and distributors that wheelchairs made in Cambodia, by Cambodians, for Cambodian conditions are the most suitable. Import of wheelchairs from other countries is discouraged. To date very few users are able to afford the US$75 to pay for a wheelchair, however many users have made small donations toward the cost of wheelchair production in Cambodia.

Vocational Training and Socio-economic Reintegration

As the number of disabled in Cambodia is so large, vocational training centers which give preference to the disabled have been essential. The number of disabled who meet entrance criteria or policy standards for other vocational centers is extremely small. However, vocational training centers are certainly not the answer for all disabled to attain income generating skills. Most are better empowered in their own localities with agricultural skills or family income possibilities.

The following organizations operate vocational and skills training centers:

Association to Aid Refugees--Japan; Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees; Cambodian War Amputees Rehab. Social; Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia; Maryknoll; Rehab Craft Cambodia; United Committee of Cambodia; Marist Mission Australia; International Labor Organization; Ministry of Social Affairs Labor and Veterans Affairs.

Socio-economic reintegration attempts to address psycho-social, economic, cultural, religious and educational needs at the village level. It is often done informally by the village community itself. Development activities in mine-affected communities are also vital in addressing these needs. A survey to determine the socio-economic situation of people disabled by landmines is currently underway. To date, no estimates of the cost of socio-economic reintegration are available.

The following organizations perform community-based work with disabled people in Cambodia: Action on Disability and Development (ADD); American Friends Service Cambodia; National Center for Disabled People; Social Services for Cambodia (SSC); Handicap International (HI); Servants; Veterans International; Jesuit Refugee Service Cambodia. Other organizations working with the disabled include the Disability Action Council and the Cambodian Disabled People’s Organization.

Disability Law

The “Draft Law to Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” has been completed, but has not yet been submitted to the National Assembly. A report on the Draft Law stated:

The draft law is designed to be sort of a set of practical approaches to deal with some of the numerous problems facing people with disabilities in Cambodia. There are many other provisions that could have been included here, such as accessibility requirements for transportation systems and telecommunications systems. .... this law is but a first step in a long term process of developing a law that fits the current situation in the country, and can serve as a solid foundation for change.[78]

Note to Readers: A much longer country report on Cambodia has been prepared for Landmine Monitor which could not be used in full due to space considerations. It contains much greater detail on the landmine problem, casualties, clearance, and survivor assistance programs. The full report is available upon request. The full Cambodia country report also contains these appendices:

One--Draft Law on the Ban of Antipersonnel Landmines

Two--Cambodian Returnees Joint Press Statement, 15 February 1999

Three--Draft Law to Protect People with Disabilities


[1] Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, Constitution, 1993.

[2] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Chairman, His Excellency Ieng Mouly, Phnom Penh, 1 February 1999.

[3] Norodom Sihanouk, Declaration of King of Cambodia, Siem Reap Peace March, 14 August 1998.

[4] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Director General, His Excellency Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.

[5] Norodom Sihanouk, Declaration of King of Cambodia, Beijing, 2 October, 1994.

[6] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Director General Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.

[7] Human Rights Watch, Cambodia at War (New York: Human Rights Watch, March 1995), p. 100.

[8]“ ”Mouly Reveals Plans to Outlaw Mines,” Phnom Penh Post, August 26-September 8, 1994.

[9] International Committee of the Red Cross, “States and International Organizations Supporting A Total Prohibition of Antipersonnel Landmines,” 18 April 1996.

[10] Chea Sim, High Representative of His Majesty the King, Speech made to the International Landmine Conference on the Human and Socio-economic Impact of Landmines, Phnom Penh, 1995.

[11] Tea Banh, Co-Minister of Defense, Speech made to International Landmine Conference on the Human and Socio-economic Impact of Landmines, Phnom Penh, 1995.

[12] Hun Sen, Second Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Welcoming Speech to the International Forum on De-mining and Victim Assistance, Phnom Penh, 26-28 October 1998.

[13] Ieng Mouly, CMAC Chairman, Statement to the International Forum on De-mining and Victim Assistance, Phnom Penh, 26-28 October 1998.

[14] International Committee Red Cross, 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), 8 January 1998.

[15] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly, Phnom Penh, 1 February 1999.

[16] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly, Phnom Penh, 1 February 1999.

[17] U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Program, Mine Facts CD Rom, version 1.2.

[18] Reuters, “Hunters using landmines to kill Cambodian tigers,” 27 January 1999 and Compton, J., “ Action promised to Save tigers from Poachers mines,” South China Morning Post, 10 February 1999.

[19] Interview, 24 February 1999, Source Confidential.

[20] NGO Forum Letter to UNHCR, 1998.

[21] U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables.

[22] Declaration of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia, Beijing, 2 October 1994.

[23] Landmine Monitor Interview with Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun, Phnom Penh, 17 February 1999.

[24] Market Survey conducted by Kim Phirum, February 1999.

[25] Landmine Monitor Interview with Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun, Phnom Penh, 17 February 1999.

[26] Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Report about de-mining in Cambodia, 15 February 1999.

[27] Ibid.

[28] See for example, Human Rights Watch, Cambodia at War, 1995, p. 100.

[29] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Chairman Ieng Mouly, Phnom Penh, 1 February 1999.

[30] Landmine Monitor Interview with Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun, Phnom Penh, 17 February 1999.

[31] Interview, 17 February 1999, Source Confidential.

[32] Handicap International, Cambodian Red Cross, United Nations Children’s Fund, Mines Advisory Group, Cambodia Mine Incident Report, Mine Incident Database Project, December 1998.

[33] Landmine Monitor Interview with Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun, 17 February 1999.

[34] Moser-Puangsuwan, “Non-State/Quasi State Armed Forces in Cambodia using, holding or producing landmines,” Nonviolence International SE Asia Office, 1 September 1998.

[35] UNHCR Report, Phnom Penh, 28 May 1998.

[36] Moser-Puangsuwan, opcit., 1 September 1998.

[37] Speech of H.E. Mr. Ung Huot, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Antipersonnel Mine Convention Signing Ceremony, Ottawa, Canada, 2-4 December 1997, p. 4.

[38] United Nations Center for Human Rights – Confidential Source

[39] “Hunters using landmines to kill Cambodian tigers,” Reuters Phnom Penh, 27 January 1999 and Compton, J., “Action promised to save tigers from poachers’ mines,” South China Morning Post, 10 February 1999.

[40] U.S. Department of Defense, Mine Facts CD Rom, version 1.2.

[41] Handicap International, Cambodian Red Cross, United Nations Children’s Fund, Mines Advisory Group, Cambodia Mine Incident Report, Mine Incident Database Project, December 1998.

[42] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. 64.

[43] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[44] Ibid.

[45] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[46] CMAC, Letter to Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines, Phnom Penh, 25 August 1998 and CMAC, Memorandum – Questionnaire for Monitoring Treaty, Phnom Penh, 14 August 1998.

[47] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Director General Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.

[48] Ibid.

[49] P. Mathews, UNDP Letter to Landmine Monitor, 18 February 1999.

[50] Ibid.

[51] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[52] Landmine Monitor Interview with CMAC Director General Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.

[53] CMAC , Memorandum – Questionnaire for Monitoring Treaty, 14 August 1998.

[54] Landmine Monitor, Interview with CMAC Director General Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.

[55] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[56] CMAC, Memorandum – Questionnaire for Monitoring Treaty, Phnom Penh, 14 August 1998.

[57] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[58] Archie Law, MAG Briefing Paper, received 21 February 1999.

[59] Provided by Mines Advisory Group, Cambodia. A detailed chart on donations is available.

[60] Halo Trust Statement to Landmine Monitor, 22 February 1999.

[61] NPA Statement to Landmine Monitor, 22 February 1999.

[62] CMAC, Response to the Landmines Monitor Questions, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.

[63] CMAC Database, All Mined Areas Cleared by CMAC, Phnom Penh, 11 December 1998.
[64] Provided by Mines Advisory Group, Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 16 December 1998.
[65] CMAC Database, All Mined Areas Cleared by HALO TRUST, Phnom Penh, 14 December 1998.
[66] CMAC Database, Statistical Profile, Phnom Penh, 14 August 1998.

[67] Ibid.

[68] CMAC, Socio Economic Unit Report, December 1998.

[69] The full text of the statement is available from Landmine Monitor.

[70] CMAC, Socio Economic Unit Report, December 1998.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Ibid.

[73] Handicap International, Cambodian Red Cross, United Nations Children’s Fund, Mines Advisory Group, Cambodia Mine Incident Report, Mine Incident Database Project, December 1998.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Information in this section was provided by the named organizations for the purposes of the Landmine Monitor.

[77] Cooperation Committee Cambodia, NGO Forum, Medicam Joint Statement to Donors Consultative Group, Tokyo, 24 February 1999.

[78] P. Barrs, Report of Draft Law to Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, March 1998.