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Country Reports
CAMBODIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999:

At least 1,012 people were hurt or killed by landmines in 1999, a decrease of 41% from the previous year. There were 417 mine casualties reported in the first five months of 2000. As areas formerly held by the Khmer Rouge became accessible, whole villages of disabled people were being discovered. In 1999, about 11.9 square kilometers of land were cleared. The Land Use Planning Unit was established in May 1999. Nearly 500,000 people received mine awareness education in 1999, the most ever in a single year. A scandal over financial mismanagement resulted in the Cambodian Mine Action Center making some important reforms.

Cambodia ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 28 July 1999. It entered into force for Cambodia on 1 January 2000. Treaty implementation legislation took effect 28 May 1999; the new law created the National Demining Regulatory Authority to coordinate activities related to the mine problem. Cambodia has served as co-chair of the Standing Committee of Experts on Technologies for Mine Clearance. More than 5,000 stockpiled mines were collected and destroyed. No new mines were reported laid.

Mine Ban Policy

Cambodia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and deposited its ratification document at the United Nations on 28 July 1999. The treaty entered into force in Cambodia on 1 January 2000. Cambodia’s transparency report required by Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty was due on 28 June 2000.

“The Law to Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines” is the domestic legislation of the Royal Government of Cambodia to implement the Mine Ban Treaty. The law was adopted by the National Assembly on 28 April 1999, and entered into force when King Norodom Sihanouk signed it on 28 May 1999. The law bans the production, use, possession, transfer, trade, sale, import and export of antipersonnel mines. It provides for criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment for offences committed by civilians, or members of the police and the armed forces. It also provides for the destruction of existing antipersonnel mine stockpiles and the creation of the National Demining Regulatory Authority to coordinate activities related to the mine problem.

The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) has produced a video and television spots explaining the law. These have been aired on national television. Mine Awareness teams from CMAC and at least one NGO have played the video in village settings to educate people on the implications of the law. Songs, traditional chants, plays and village discussions have also been used. In some places the village people are aware of the law and are afraid to either keep or sell mines. In other places, the storing of mines so they can be traded across the border is observed. To date, there are no known instances of trial or punishment for breaking the antipersonnel mine ban law.

Cambodia voted in favor of the December 1999 UNGA resolution promoting the Mine Ban Treaty. At the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the United Nations Sun Suon, said, “As one of the victim countries of landmines, Cambodia supports all initiatives leading to the total ban of the production, use, stockpiling, export or transfer of landmines and to their destruction forever. It is in this spirit Cambodia was one of the first countries to sign the Ottawa Convention in 1997. This year...it became one of the States Parties.... Now we realize that the emphasis should be placed on the full and speedy implementation of the Ottawa Convention in the worldwide context.”[1]

Cambodia participated in the First Meeting of States Parties in Mozambique. The Cambodian Representative made a statement in which he expressed his Government’s deep concern about landmines, inside and outside the country, it’s concrete commitment to eradication of landmines around the world, and recalled CMAC’s official focal position within the eradication process inside Cambodia.[2] At the meeting, Cambodia agreed to serve as the co-chair of one of the five newly created Intersessional Standing Committees of Experts (SCEs) – the SCE on Technologies for Mine Clearance.

Aside from the Technologies SCE, the government has also actively participated in most of the other SCE meetings, on Victim Assistance, Mine Clearance, and Stockpile Destruction, and in the second the SCE meeting on General Status of the Convention in May 2000. Representatives of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines attended the Victim Assistance SCE meetings and addressed the September 1999 meeting. The tenor of their message was that the credibility of the treaty depends on its credibility in the eyes of the victims.[3]

Cambodia is a state party to Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). It participated in the First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in Geneva in December 1999. Cambodia submitted its report required under Article 13 of the amended protocol. At the conference Head of Delegation Ieng Mouly said, “Mine action depends largely on support in terms of funding, human resources and technologies. Many developed nations hold the keys to resources. Many mine affected countries belong to the developing world; it is essential therefore to support mine action with good co-operation. This co-operation reflects also the spirit of international solidarity.”[4]

Cambodia has no stated position on negotiating a ban on mine transfers in the Conference on Disarmament. However, the government is against anything that dilutes the Mine Ban Treaty and will continue to promote all aspects associated with this treaty.[5]


While the government of Cambodia has never mass-produced mines,[6] various armed forces have manufactured homemade mines (Improvised Explosive Devices). However, there is no evidence of production of even homemade mines by any Cambodian group since February 1999.


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

Since October 1994, Cambodia has maintained a formal position against the import or export of antipersonnel landmines.[8] In an interview on 17 February 1999, the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (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.[9] Informal surveys in February 1999 and April 2000 of a local market notorious for the sale of weapons found that antipersonnel landmines were no longer available.[10]

However, Landmine Monitor researchers have been told of three cases of people storing mines for possible cross border trade.[11] In one instance, a demining agency found some villagers reluctant to surrender mines for destruction because they can sell them across the Thai border for 20 Baht each (about US$.50).[12]

It is claimed that antipersonnel landmines are clandestinely traded by groups or individuals through Thailand to the Burma border, and also sold to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, but no evidence of such transfers was found in 1999 and 2000.

Stockpiling and destruction

On 17 February 1999 RCAF Deputy Commander in Chief Lieutenant General Pol Saroeun formally stated that the RCAF no longer had stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines. The RCAF reported that between 1994 and 1998, it destroyed 71,991 antipersonnel mines, as well as 3,585 antitank mines, and 2,302 improvised explosive devices.[13] These landmines were destroyed by explosion, individually and in groups, as they were found.[14]

Landmine Monitor Report 1999 pointed out that 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.[15] RCAF has continued to maintain that its entire stock has been destroyed.[16] However, throughout 1999 and 2000 significant numbers of antipersonnel mines held at provincial military and police facilities have continued to be turned in and destroyed. Mines held by villagers, and even the Khmer Rouge, have also been destroyed.

Article 10 of the domestic mine ban law states, “Whoever possesses any types of mines, be it ministry or institution, shall report to the Cambodian Mine Action Center, specifying the types, numbers of mines and other detailed information related to the mines in their possession no later than 90 days after the entry into force of this law.” Article 11 of the law states, “The Cambodian Mine Action Center must destroy all the mines as stipulated in Article 10 within one year after the entry into force of this law and send a report to the Royal Government.”

The law also established the National Demining Regulatory Authority to coordinate activities related to the mine problem, including the registering and destruction of stockpiles. In 1999, the Regulatory Authority wrote to all relevant ministries and provincial authorities asking that all stockpiles of antipersonnel mines held by police, soldiers and village authorities, be handed over so that the mines could be registered and destroyed.

The Regulatory Authority and CMAC reported that a total of 5,118 antipersonnel mines were handed over and destroyed in 1999, and another 250 in January 2000. Mr. Sen Samnang of the Authority visited the sites and witnessed destruction. The Regulatory Authority also reported 1,390 antipersonnel mines destroyed in 1998 that were not included in the RCAF totals for that year.[17]

Landmine Monitor obtained from the Regulatory Authority a detailed list of the places that had turned in mines.[18] It included police stations, military garrisons, military courts, “Secretariat of Espionage Research,” Army Stockpiles in Battambang province, and other locations. The largest number of mines were turned in by “Police Headquarters for Rubber Plantations, Kampong Cham province,” with 845 on 18 June 1999 and another 845 on 18 July 1999.

CMAC reported 789 antipersonnel mines destroyed in Siem Reap, possibly removed from minefields or handed in by villagers.[19] CMAC also reported that in January 2000 it was called by Khmer Rouge military leaders, at the urging of villagers, to destroy 250 mines held in a former storage house of the Khmer Rouge in Bung Beng Village, Banteay Meanchey.[20]

Landmine Monitor researchers were shown a very large abandoned cache of weapons, including mines, in Anlong Veng province near the Thai border. Many farmers report finding small “stockpiles” as they dig gardens.[21]

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 Kampong Chhnang. CMAC usually uses copies of landmines for training purposes.[22]


While many mine incidents occur in Cambodia, it is almost certain they occur because of mines laid in the ground in the past. There is no concrete evidence that new mines were laid in 1999 or 2000 by any of the armed groups that now make up the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Rumors persist that individuals still use mines to protect or mark off their plots of land.[23] Domestic squabbles are sometimes settled with the use of weapons including mines. An antipersonnel mine was responsible for the death of six people in a private house in Tuol Kok, Phnom Penh in November 1999.[24] This indicates that antipersonnel mines are still hidden in private homes.

Non-State Actors

The remaining Khmer Rouge officially rejoined the nation on 25 December 1999, so officially there are no longer guerrilla groups in Cambodia.

Mine Action Funding

Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) provided a comprehensive report of their funding sources and expenditures from 1993 through 1999. A very large proportion of CMAC funds is channeled through the UNDP Trust Fund.[25]

During 1999 CMAC received US$8,594,941, of which $7,989,086 came from the UNDP Trust Fund.

Aside from the Trust Fund, other contributors to CMAC in 1999 included the UNHCR ($336,000), the German Rhino Project ($132,214), the Japan Brush Cutter Project ($24,623), and the Royal Cambodian Government ($66,238). “Adopt A Minefield” is a program initiated by the non-governmental United Nations Association-USA. A UNDP memo dated 18 April 2000 indicates $196,015 is available to CMAC for “Adopt A Minefield” programs in Cambodia.[26]

CMAC received a total of $53.7 million through the UNDP Trust Fund during the period December 1993 to 10 April 2000 (not including in-kind donations or equipment). The major donors included: Australia ($10.45 million); Netherlands ($9.36 million); Sweden ($8.02 million); and Japan ($7.8 million). Others contributing included UK, Denmark, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Finland, U.S., New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, and the Holy See.

However, the above list does not give an accurate reflection of total contributions by individual governments to mine action in Cambodia. Many governments contribute not just through the UNDP Trust Fund, but also through bilateral programs, non-governmental organizations, in-kind donations, and supply of equipment. The United States, for example, has given only $910,000 to the trust fund, but calculates that it has contributed an additional $19 million to mine action in Cambodia from 1993-1999.

In terms of in-kind donations and equipment, in 1999 Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) contributed technical advisers and a truck to CMAC, and a training assistant to the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics. The U.S. Embassy contributed trucks to CMAC, MAG and Halo Trust in 1999. On 11 May 2000 the Japanese government gave a $3 million in-kind to CMAC for mine clearance.[27]

Halo Trust’s operations in Cambodia in 1999 cost about $4 million. Its donors included the governments of the United Kingdom, Finland, Japan, Ireland, and U.S., as well as the European Commission DGIB and ECHO, UNHCR, UNDP, Swedish Red Cross, Concern Worldwide (Ireland), Community Aid Abroad (Australia), Association to Aid Refugees-Japan, Fondation Pro Victimis, and Nagano Olympic Committee-Japan.[28]

The Mines Advisory Group’s operations in Cambodia in 1999 cost about $3.9 million. Its donors included the governments of the United Kingdom (DFID), Australia (AusAID, in partnership with World Vision), United States (USAID), and Austria, as well as UNHCR, UNICEF, Fin Church Aid, EZE, Church World Service, Lutheran World Service, Anti-Landmijn Stichting, and Caritas/Austria.[29]

Norwegian People’s Aid’s operations in Cambodia in 1999 cost about $3.6 million for resettlement, rehabilitation and community integration in Beng Trakun, Seng, O Bei Choun and Poipet Communes of Banteay Meanchey.[30] Funding is mainly from the Norwegian government.

Handicap International spent $2.197 million for its victim assistance programs in Cambodia in 1999. Funders included Echo, NORAD/NPA, UNICEF, FAO, Belgian Ag Framephone, Belgian Co-operation, Luxembourg Co-operation, Terre des Hommes, the Finnish government, and private donors. Programs funded included National Support to Cambodian Victims of Anti-Personnel Mines and People with Disability ($710,815); Economic and Social Rehabilitation 8 provinces (PRES) ($294,760); CRC Database ($291,377); Physical Rehabilitation Programme, Phnom Penh & 11 provinces ($289,644); Regional Rehabilitation Centre for Spinal Injured Persons ($250,000); Capacity Building of Disabled People in Community ($185,665); and Use of Demined Land in Favor of Vulnerable People ($174,370).

Jesuit Service Cambodia (JS/JRS) spent $815,272 in 1999 on different aspects of mine action, including farming assistance, housing, wells, hearing aids, wheelchairs, income generating possibilities and advocacy for survivors, building schools, roads, health posts, non-formal education in mine affected communities, vocational training for disabled, wheelchair production and furniture production by disabled. Additional funds were spent for other rural development activities. These funds came from private donors of Jesuit Service and two Catholic fund raising agencies.

Maryknoll reported spending $110,000 on skills training program for disabled. This was funded largely by Misereor, a Catholic funding agency in Gemany. Another German foundation funded Maryknoll’s large program for the blind.

Landmine problem

After 30 years of conflict Cambodia is among the most mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) affected countries in the world. In 1999 and 2000, as areas formerly held by the Khmer Rouge became accessible, whole villages of disabled people were being discovered, as well as small groups of families living in extreme misery in areas surrounded by mines. Surveys and mine incidents particularly in the northwest of the country show that mine contamination is a grave restriction not only to economic development but also to a sense of freedom and security. The eradication of mines in Cambodia is still a priority for development.

According to the CMAC database, 644 square kilometers of land is mined, and another 1,400 square kilometers is suspected to be mined.[31] About 155 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 1998 U.S. State Department report estimated the number of mines in Cambodia at 4-6 million,[32] but nobody knows the real number.

CMAC does not 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. Statistics from the CRC/HI Database reveal that most mine incidents in 1999 occurred in Battambang (31% of total incidents), Banteay Meanchey (20% of total incidents), Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Pailin and Pursat. The population in these provinces is 3,795,674, about 33% of the total population.[33]

Census enumeration could not be held due to conflict in whole districts of Anlong Veng in Oddar Meanchey, Samlot in Battambang and Veal Veng in Pursat and O'Bei Choan village of O Chrov district in Banteay Meanchey. The estimated population of these excluded areas is 45,000. These are very heavily mine infested areas and the population estimate is probably very conservative.

The main target beneficiaries of humanitarian mine clearance are returning refugees and Internally Displace Persons (IDPs). These newly settled villagers living on marginal land close to old military positions struggle to develop their communities because of the threat of landmines.[34] In 1998 according to the World Food Program, there were still over 110,000 internally displaced people, waiting to resettle or just returned to their village of origin. In many cases these villages are either mined or very close to suspected areas. There were also 37,000 refugees living in Thai refugee camps who returned to heavily mine infested areas in Samlot, Samrong and Anlong Veng in 1999.[35]

Surveys and Assessment

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. CMAC has collected and verified reports of suspected areas, and recorded them in the database since 1992. The information recorded in the CMAC Database as of May 2000 is as follows:

  • Reported (suspected) mine areas: 543 locations covering 1,234 square kilometers
  • Verified mine areas: 790 locations covering 533 square kilometers
  • Marked mined areas: 417 locations covering 119 square kilometers[36]

Surveys are ongoing commune by commune on the request of the people who live in the suspected areas, the NGOs who are working there, and the local authorities. These suspected areas are then classified as reported, verified, marked, or cleared.

The most recent surveys were finished in April 2000, in Preah Vihear province and three districts of Oddar Meanchey province.[37] The Preah Vihear survey showed an increase of 138% (an additional 18,378 hectares) of mined land compared to older data. In 1999, two provinces and one town in the southern part of the country were surveyed (Takeo, Keb, and Kampot). The survey of Kampot and Keb showed an increase of 86% (8 square kilometers) of mined land compared to older data.

The Canadian government (through CIDA) has agreed to fund a Level One Survey costing $2 million in the areas of the country not yet surveyed. Geo-Spatial, a Canadian company, has been awarded the contract. They will take the original CMAC survey team, recruit and expand and begin a one-year work plan in August 2000. The training will take place at the Kampong Chhang Training Centre. Planned surveys will take place in Kompong Chhnang, followed by Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Anlong Veng, Kompong Thom and later in the rest of the country.[38]

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance has been carried out in Cambodia by the national demining organization CMAC, two humanitarian demining NGOs based in the United Kingdom (MAG and Halo Trust), the military, villagers, and some commercial firms. About 155 square kilometers of land has been cleared thus far. In 1999, 11.86 square kilometers of land were cleared, and 8,006 antipersonnel mines, 70 antitank mines, and 91,131 UXO were found and destroyed.


Square Meters Cleared

[40] In 1998 and 1999 Halo introduced the One Man One Lane (OMOL) demining procedure to all of its operational teams in Cambodia.

MAG is operating 22 Mine Action Teams in Battambang, Preah Vihear, Pursat, Kompong Thom, and Kompong Speu. These multi-skilled Teams conduct data gathering, community liaison, survey, marking mine clearance, EOD and emergency tasks in response to identified community needs. From 1993-1999, it cleared 3.74 million square meters of land, including 350,000 square meters in 1999. Since Spring 2000, MAG has deployed two Tempest Mini-Flail Systems in Battambang. The Tempest is a remote-controlled mini-flail device, the size of a small car. These machines are produced by the Demining Technology Workshop (DTW) in Phnom Penh, a charity initially set up by Warwick University, UK and sponsored by DfID. DTW employs, like MAG, disabled Khmer staff. The Tempest is armored for minefield deployment and is designed to thresh an clear undergrowth safely, thus dramatically speeding up the mine clearance process. MAG believes that the Tempest will likely achieve a 75% increase in productivity. MAG is also conducting a 12-month trial of the ‘Survivable Demining Tractor’ also known as the ‘Pearson’ tractor, developed by Pearson Engineering, with MAG input. MAG is trialing the armoured tractor with 17 attachments that can be utilized to increase the productivity of demining operations, including brush-cutting, roller and tree extractor. PRior to clearance, MAG works closely with LUPU and establishes land ownership and hand-over procedures. MAG is currently planning to create an impact evaluation unit. - This unit will, among other activities, monitor the impact of MAG's work, including the use of land post-clearance.

MAG works Teams in several former Khmer Rouge-controlled areas, around Pailin, Kompong Speu and Preah Vihear. Following the defections and recent improvements in security, refugees and IDPs have been returning to their homes in these areas. MAG's mobile Mine Action Teams and the flexiblity of its donors have enabled rapid responses to the beginnings of emergencies in these areas.[41]

CMAC reported in 1998 that in addition to clearance by CMAC, Halo and MAG, a total of 69.78 square kilometers of land has been cleared by village people, 11.5 square kilometers by COFRAS, 3.94 by the Army, 2.11 square kilometers by UNTAC, .19 square kilometers by CMAC CMM, and 1.18 square kilometers by unknown (likely commercial firms).

“Adopt a Minefield” is a program initiated by the non-governmental United Nations Association-USA. It has already funded clearance of two 35,000 square meter minefields in Battambang (at a cost of $37,100 each), and another six are planned. CMAC has examined potential additional sites in Battambang and, according to the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines, acted responsibly in suspending some sites in which there was a possibility of land grabbing.[42] The Cambodian Campaign has a list of 17 “probable” new sites.

“Destroy a Minefield” is a program sponsored by the Australian government aid agency (AusAID), with funds being sought from the Australian public. Initial plans call for one mined area in Ta Peng village in Siem Reap to be demined by Halo Trust. From 1 December 1999, MAG has cleared one area in Boeung Sankae, Battambang under the Destroy a Minefield program.

Coordination and Planning of Mine Action

CMAC is the national demining agency. It implements mine clearance and mine awareness programs on its own, and is also responsible for the coordination of all mine and UXO clearance activities of all non-governmental organizations and others operating in Cambodia.[43] CMAC expenditures in 1999 were $8,939,406. That included: Salaries $5,255,485; Equipment $910,109; Equipment Maintenance $1,015,136; Transportation $719,061; Accommodation $315,837; Support $573,136; Administration $159,733.

Accusations of Corruption and Mismanagement

Accusations about corruption, nepotism and poor financial management in many Cambodian organizations, including CMAC, received much publicity in the national and international media in 1999. CMAC donors suspended funding and called for a proper audit of the entire funds received and demanded new accountability for the use of funds. A fifty-point list of requirements before funding would be continued was given to CMAC. The audit, though critical of management practices, indicated that the disbursement of funds could be accounted for to within a small proportion of the total funds. This small percentage was mainly related to funds allocated to CMAC by the Royal Government of Cambodia.

In response to criticisms of the amount of money allocated for expatriate technical advisers, conscious effort is being directed toward the reduction and restructuring of international technical support to CMAC.

The past problems of CMAC and UNDP have been well documented. Financial audits, management audits, and recommendations have been widely distributed to donors. Sun System accounting procedures have been put in place. A wide consultation on suggestions for reform was set in place.

Nevertheless the media publicity damaged the image of CMAC and lowered staff morale. Concern over whether the agency would close and whether they would have a pay packet and a job the next month was spoken of by many staff. Relationships between UNDP and CMAC were strained and some instances of public recriminations appeared in the media. The consequent and probably understandable stop-start approach to funding hindered planning.

Australia is the biggest cash donor to CMAC. In May 2000, Australian Ambassador Malcolm Lederer told Landmine Monitor that Australia wants CMAC to continue as an organization. He noted that CMAC has gone a long way to meet the criteria for reform set by donors. He said Australia has faith in CMAC and believes it has the possibility to perform its mine clearance activities even better. Even though initially Australia was a very harsh critic of the failings in CMAC, it was also one of the first to restore funding and to give additional funding in 2000.[44]


The “CMAC White Paper 2000” outlines CMAC's reform vision. The new director general of CMAC Khem Sophoan in the presentation of this strategy said, “We have a plan that will make CMAC more productive, more responsive to the needs of Cambodia and will increase the impact of our work. We have a plan that is consistent with the commitments for reform that we have already made.”[45] CMAC is to become a service provider of humanitarian mine action under the Royal Decree. There is to be clear separation between CMAC as an operational organization and the CMAC Governing Council, whose functions would include regulation;

The major changes seen to date in coordination and planning are:

  • The separation and physical relocation of the Regulatory Authority with a staff separate from the CMAC Operational Staff.
  • The ongoing meetings of Cambodian Demining Coordination Committee which includes all mine clearance agencies, some agencies working in the development of demined communities, the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Royal Cambodian Army Forces, some donors and UNICEF.
  • Invitation to the Land Use Planning Unit in Battambang to present their proposed form of operation.
  • A renewal of the technical committee to advise on technical aspects of mine clearance.

Land Use Planning Unit and Provincial Sub-Committee

The Land Use Planning Unit (LUPU) was established in May 1999 in response to a national workshop on Land Use Planning and Management held in Battambang on 23-24 June 1998.[46] The participants of the workshop included representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Defense, Rural Development, demining agencies, NGOs, IOs, UN agencies, district authorities, military commanders, governor and department offices of Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces. The participants in the workshop agreed there should be an institution established that has the task of land use planning and management for development.

In Battambang a Provincial Sub-Committee (PSC) was established to manage the task of land use planning after mine clearance and to strengthen the management structures, particularly at the district level, as they relate to mined land. LUPU is the support unit to the PSC and reports directly to the PSC. The main tasks of the PSC as related to land use planning in mined areas are to ensure effective land use and management in mined areas, review demining plans, and solve conflicts arising in land use management.

The PSC consists of managerial staff from government departments and the district chiefs. LUPU promotes coordination and discussion with the district authorities, demining agencies, development agencies and the PSC. LUPU tasks include: identify mined land, prioritize mined land for clearance, develop future plans for demining, prepare development plans for mined areas, prepare documents related to beneficiaries of demined land, organize land allocation process after demining, identify and address problems with use of land and land disputes.

Of the 12 districts in Battambang, 9 have landmines; in each of these nine districts a District Working Group (DWG) and a District LUPU has been established. The District LUPU reports to the DWG and Provincial LUPU. Many information sessions and training workshops have been conducted in the districts. Workshops were conducted in each of the districts to identify the priorities for demining. Many field visits were made to assess minefields, collect beneficiary names and obtain approval from village, commune and district authorities for demining.

Achievements to date include a workshop to finalize minefield selection for 2000 and approve development of a plan for 2000; establishment of a mapping system containing the minefields to be demined in 2000; some aerial photography and topographic information. Currently LUPU is collating a database of more than 2000 beneficiaries.

LUPU has received funding from CARERE/UNOPS, World Vision, UNHCR and LWS. However, due to the extensive structure, the operation costs are still in excess of the funding. LWS has provided funding for one of the LUPU staff to travel to Germany and study Land Use Planning for Rural Development at the Food and Agriculture Development Center. A volunteer is helping to develop the capacity of the staff, particularly in the areas of the Geographic Information System (GIS), data collection, database creation and mapping.

Use of demined land, reconstruction and development of cleared areas

The NGO Statement to the 2000 Consultative Group Meeting on Cambodia recommends that the government urgently address the issue of land titling in a way that the needs of the poor for land prevail over the wants of the powerful and the rich. This, the statement declares, is crucial to peaceful development in mine affected areas.[47]

The Land Reform Group reveals that the poorest half of Cambodia’s population shares less than a quarter of cultivated land. One family in six has no land and one rural family in thirty is involved in land disputes, mostly with the military and public officials.[48] This puts disputes over what happens to demined land in perspective. The most highly publicized dispute of this nature in 1999 was an area of land in Kampot which came under the control of a former Khmer Rouge commander accused of killing foreign tourists.

In 1999 and 2000 studies were done by Halo Trust on the use of cleared land in Cambodia that show by far the biggest proportion of land is used for purposes that benefit the poor. An extensive study done in the areas cleared by Halo Trust from 1993-1999 in Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey showed that 99% of all the land cleared by HALO was used for humanitarian purposes.[49] The land cleared totaled 7.3 square kilometers and the primary uses were agriculture (44%), Resettlement (19%), and Roads/Bridges (10%). Over 318,696 Cambodians have directly or indirectly benefited from this land clearance and a further 155,840 benefit every day through roads or bridges built on Halo-cleared land.

There is only one instance of Halo-cleared land being used for an unintended purpose. In Trapeang Pol village, Samrong commune, Samrong district, Oddar Meanchey province, Halo was asked to clear the area so that land could be handed over for more housing and for use as vegetable plots. On completion of clearance, government military reclaimed the land and have subsequently used it to house their own families. Local people have so far been too afraid to lodge a complaint about this action.[50] The director of CMAC in Siem Reap also said that there were some cases in which, after the handover of the mine-cleared land to villagers, some powerful people pressured them to sell their land for another purpose.[51]

A socio-economic assessment done by CMAC itself in 1999 of 9,977,573 square meters of land cleared by CMAC reported the use of the land as follows: 50% for agriculture, 12% for settlement, 3% for roads, 21% for other and 14% as contentious (and not yet distributed).[52]

Agencies working in development and reconstruction of mine affected communities include: CARE. Church World Service, Jesuit Service, Lutheran World Service, Norwegian People’s Aid, and World Vision. Oxfam Great Britain does not implement directly but supports partner organizations to conduct their programs. Oxfam is involved in the NGO/IO Land Law Working Group providing input into the revision of the Land Law, research into landlessness and landlessness mitigation, and land-related advocacy issues.[53]

Mine awareness education

The main providers of mine awareness/mine risk education are CMAC, MAG and World Vision MATT team. Since 1993 more than 1.6 million people have received mine awareness education in 4,707 villages and 136 schools. Jesuit Service provides education that involves advocacy against mines; Church World Service, the NGO Forum and UNICEF have helped funded advocacy work in 1999. There is a working group led by CMAC on mine awareness where the agencies involved collaborate and coordinate their activities at both regional and national levels. Communities to be provided with mine risk education are selected according to the mine incident rate per population or upon request from the community itself.

Since 1993, MAG has undertaken mine awareness educational activities with around one million people. During 1999, MAG mine awareness and data gathering staff numbered 42 MAG staff, 12 Trainers of Teachers from three Provincial Departments of Education and 4 textbook writers from the Ministry of Education. MAG Child Mine Risk Education teams trained 3,916 schoolteachers from 1993 to September 1999. The Child Mine Risk Education Program, conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, is aimed at ensuring the sustainability of mine risk education within the primary education system. This program will be handed over through the year 2000. Future community mine awareness activities will be integrated within Mine Action Teams - combined multi-disciplinary teams able to undertake community liaison, survey, marking, clearance, and awareness education work.[54]

Mine marking is a crucial form of mine awareness. CMAC has two kinds of teams involved in marking mined areas. Thirteen Mine Marking Teams mark verified mined areas of high priority. Another 13 community Mine Marking Teams mark priority areas and do small scale clearance of minefields in remote villages. In addition, CMAC has produced local printed materials, videos, radio broadcasts, plays, songs, and posters in efforts to make people aware of the danger of mines. In 1999 CMAC trained 54 mine awareness educators.

UNICEF is conducting an assessment in 2000 of the level of mine awareness in Cambodia. Criteria for classifying people as “mine aware” include knowledge, attitude change, and practices.

Number of People Receiving Mine Awareness Education[55]


Landmine Casualties[56]

The number of mine casualties in Cambodia continued to drop in 1999. At least 1,012 people were injured by landmines and UXO in Cambodia during 1999. Of these 229 died, 311 needed limb amputations, 71 were blinded, and 34 were made deaf. The 1999 total is a decrease of 703 casualties, or 41%, compared to 1998. The 1999 total is only one-third the number of mines casualties recorded in 1996. Latest statistics show an even greater decrease. In the year from June 1999 to May 2000, there were 797 casualties.

It is important to note that the national database and consequently the Landmine Monitor Report 1999 had formerly reported 1,249 casualties for 1998. The number now quoted, 1,715, is the result of new data gathered. It is very possible that the 1999 figure will likewise be revised upward as new information is received.

Mine/UXO Casualties in Cambodia 1996-2000

Recorded landmine/UXO casualties
Monthly Average
Every Day
254 people
8 people
143 people
5 people
143 people
5 people
84 people
3 people
(5mths) 417
83 people
3 people

Most new mine incidents occurred in the provinces of Battambang (31%) followed by Banteay Meanchey (19%), Oddar Meanchey(9%), Krong Pailin(7%), Siem Reap(7%), Preah Vihear(7%) and Pursat (5%). A month-by-month, province-by-province breakdown of casualties is available. Of the 1,012 injured in 1999, 91% were civilians.

The cessation of hostilities is a very significant factor in the decrease of accidents. The most dramatic decrease in reported casualties occurred in Oddar Meanchey, home of the last Khmer Rouge fighters. In 1998, 253 casualties were recorded there, in 1999 the number was 76. At a national level, the total number of victims in May 1998 was 188 (110 civilian), in May 1999 was 111 (100 civilians), and May 2000 was 75 (67 civilians).

While the overall number of mine casualties is dropping, the percentage of incidents involving children is increasing: from 16% in 1998, to 26% in 1999, to 30% in the first five months of 2000.

From June 1999 to May 2000, civilian mine incidents occurred while farming (26%), travelling (25%), collecting wood and food (23%), tampering (14%) and fishing/herding (5%).

During this period, of the 797 casualties, 33% were children (under 18), 60% were men and 7% were women.

The first five months of 1999 coincided with the repatriation and resettlement of the last wave of refugees for the Thai border camps. Generally speaking, most of the exceptions to the trend of decreasing casualties in 1999 can be attributed to resettlement and land clearance activities during the first half of the year in the area most affected by repatriation.

It is difficult to estimate accurately the number of mine victims alive today in Cambodia. However, records show that at least 40,312 people were injured by mines through the end of 1999. Records also indicate that 13,709 of those injured died between January 1979 and December 1999, thus there may be approximately 25,000 mine victims in Cambodia today. The Disability Action Council, in May 2000, will use pilot studies to try to assess the number of disabled people in Cambodia, and the cause of their disability.[57]

Survivor Assistance[58]

A study of disabled people in mine infested areas of Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap and areas surrounding Kampong Speu revealed that of 1,663 survivors: 71% did not have a house that sheltered them; 7% had no house at all; 45% had to travel more than five minutes to get water for drinking and washing; 89% reported food insecurity; 32% had no land for housing or gardening; 28% received a government pension; 50% had a “job”(including rice farming); and the children of at least 46% did not go to school[59].

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 to 180,000 riels per month (approximately U.S. $8 to $47).


The national budget for health for 1999 was $21.1 million.[60] Poor citizens are to receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.[61] However, Medicam reports that the poorest Cambodians spent 28% of household income on health and 45% of Cambodians borrow money to pay for health care.[62] Most Cambodian disabled are among the very poorest in a very poor country. Health costs for landmine injuries can completely bankrupt 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 the year 2000 surgical facilities are available at the provincial level for landmine injuries. A special hospital run by the NGO Emergency provides free professional surgical and post-operative care services to victims in the Battambang area. Medecins Sans Frontieres assists a hospital in Oddar Meanchey. In many areas, poverty of both the health care staff and of the patients is the problem, not the lack of facilities. However in the newly opened areas, where many landmine victims are located, health infrastructure has still to be developed. Equal access to quality health care at provincial centers according to the government plan is the main goal of the Cambodia Health Sector Reform, but it still has to be realized.


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 1999 the total number of prosthesis produced was 6,215, an average of 518 per month. The Foot Factory is a private business with technical assistance from HI, which uses local materials to produce vulcanized rubber, solid ankle, and cushioned-heel prosthetic feet. The ICRC-funded and operated Components Factory supplies prostheses and orthotics parts to the majority of the workshops in Cambodia.

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 National School of Prosthetics and Orthotics has the capacity to train 12 students per year in a three-year curriculum course. The course has international accreditation and is developing a role in the region, as two students form the Laos joined the program last year. A Regional Rehabilitation Center for Spinal Injured Persons is sponsored by Handicap International in Battambang.

The total number of prostheses produced in 1999 include: the American Red Cross (589), Cambodia Trust (1,230), Handicap International (1,635), Veterans International (1,208), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (1,553).


Production of wheelchairs is done by three organizations in Cambodia. Assessment of wheelchair users, training in wheelchair use and follow-up is also done by these agencies. A national plan for wheelchair distribution was attempted and is partially successful. ICRC, ARC, HI, CT and various NGOs and individuals purchase and distribute wheelchairs to the handicapped. There is a policy amongst wheelchair producers and distributors that wheelchairs made in Cambodia, for Cambodian conditions, by Cambodians are the most suitable. Import of wheelchairs from other countries is discouraged. To date very few users are able to afford the $75 to pay for a wheelchair, however many users have made small donations towards the cost of wheelchair production in Cambodia.

Organizations producing wheelchairs in Cambodia, and total number of wheelchairs made in 1999, include: Jesuit Service Cambodia (908), Veterans International (351), and Association to Aid Refugees-Japan (300).

Vocational Training and Socio-Economic Integration for the Disabled

As the number of disabled in Cambodia is so large, vocational training centers which discriminate in favor of the disabled have been essential. Organizations that conduct vocational and skills training centers include: Association to Aid Refugees-Japan, Cambodian War Amputees Rehabilitation Social, Jesuit Service Cambodia, Maryknoll, United Committee of Cambodia, Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Veterans Affairs, partnered by World Vision.

In addition to centers, some organizations including International Labour Organization, Cambodia Disabled Peoples Organization, Veterans International, World Vision, Thean Thor, Maryknoll, and Jesuit Service have short courses in different locations or in the village to teach animal raising, community agriculture and other income generating skills. The National Center for Disabled Persons, Rehab Craft, Maryknoll, Veterans International, and Jesuit Service provide outlets for craft production or employment opportunities which discriminate in favor of landmine victims and other disabled.

Disabled children who have missed the opportunity to begin primary classes at the normal entry age may study at Lavalla school run by the Manst Mission. Deaf and blind children can study at Krousa Thmey centers. UNICEF has funded the Disability Action Council with $101,320 for a study on disabled children and education. Simple things like wheelchair access to school and the provision of wheelchairs and tricycles so handicapped children can travel to school are needed in many parts of Cambodia.

Community Services

Many organizations listed by the Disability Action Council help survivors and other disabled through self-help groups, community-based assistance, referral systems, counseling, and outreach. These include Action for Disability, Cambodian People's Disabled Organisation, American Friends Services Committee, Handicap International (PRES and CABDIC), Operation Enfants de Battambang, Servants, Maryknoll, Veterans International, Jesuit Service, Help Age, Social Services of Cambodia, National Center for Disabled Persons, American Red Cross, and Thean Thor. Creative ways of helping towards the empowerment of survivors are being implemented.

Disability Policy and Practice

Cambodia does not yet have separate disability laws, but disability issues are addressed in Cambodian laws. Article 74 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says that the state shall help persons with disabilities and their families. Draft legislation of a proposed disability law has been prepared. This draft legislation is a basic tool for the promotion and development of measures to enable individuals and organizations to strengthen management capabilities to develop and initiate activities on disability prevention and social problem solving. The law should also contribute to developing a policy framework and guidelines for inclusion and integration of people with disabilities into mainstream development of programs (including education, vocational training, and employment) while recognizing some specialized services are still needed for specific categories of disabilities. The draft law aims to ensure the protection of the rights of all people with disabilities and prohibition of abuse and neglect of these persons and discrimination against them.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Vocational Training, and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSALVY) has been assigned to undertake the main responsibility for disability and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, it is a poorly supported and financed ministry lacking major resources to address critical issues in the disability and rehabilitation sector. The Ministry of Veterans and Women’s Affairs is responsible for the pensions for disabled veterans. Currently, the disabilities and rehabilitation sector has in place the Disability Action Council (DAC), which is a national coordinating body. The DAC plays a role in coordinating, facilitating, negotiating, and networking between individuals, organizations, and institutions working for the well-being of people with disabilities. A fundamental issue has been the limited representation by people with disabilities, including women, to take their place and role in society.


[1] H.E. Sun Suon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the UN, Statement to the UN General Assembly, New York, 18 November 1999.
[2] H.E. Ieng Mouly, (then) Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, Statement to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, 3 May 1999.
[3] Tun Channareth and Denise Coghlan, address to ICSE, Geneva, 15 September 1999.
[4] H.E. Ieng Mouly, Statement to the First Annual Conference of States Parties to CCW Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 15 December 1999.
[5] Interview with Ieng Mouly, Phnom Penh, 1 February 1999.
[6] The government manufactured just one type of mine, the KN-10 Claymore-type mine, in the early 1970s. Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 389.
[7] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 390-394. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 reported that thirty-six different types of antipersonnel mines from about a dozen countries had been found in Cambodia. A June 1999 Ministry of Interior report on mines found in the national police stockpiles indicated the most common were Type 72, POMZ-2 and OZM-4 antipersonnel mines, as well as TM-62 antitank mines. “Mines in Police Stockpiles in Provinces,” Ministry of Interior, June 1999.
[8] Norodom Sihanouk, Declaration of King of Cambodia, Beijing, 2 October 1994.
[9] Interview with Lt. Gen. Pol Saroeun, Phnom Penh, 17 February 1999.
[10] Market survey conducted by Kim Phirum, February 1999 and April 2000.
[11] Interview, Cambodian Red Cross, Banteay Meanchey, 21 January 2000.
[12] Interview, Halo Trust, Banteay Meanchey, 21 January 2000.
[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 391, for year-by-year destruction totals.
[14] Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Report about demining in Cambodia, 15 February 1999.
[15] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 391. See also, Human Rights Watch, Cambodia at War, 1995, p. 100.
[16] This was noted by Ieng Mouly, Director of the National Demining Regulatory Authority, at a meeting of the Cambodia Coordination Demining Commission on 7 April 2000. He said obtaining information about stores of any weapons held by the Defense Ministry was very difficult. RCAF has not been responsive to inquiries regarding stocks from either Landmine Monitor or the National Demining Regulatory Authority in 2000.
[17] Information provided by Regulatory Authority, 4 January 2000; CMAC Report to Landmine Monitor meeting, Banteay Meanchey, 21 January 2000; CMAC PMU Siem Reap report, Cambodian Demining Commission meeting, 7 April 2000; “Mines in Police Stockpiles in Provinces,” Ministry of Interior, June 1999.
[18] Information provided by Regulatory Authority, 4 January 2000. See also, “Mines in Police Stockpiles in Provinces,” Ministry of Interior, June 1999.
[19] CMAC PMU Siem Reap report, Cambodia Demining Commission meeting, 7 April 2000.
[20] CMAC Report to Landmine Monitor meeting, Banteay Meanchey, 21 January 2000.
[21] Landmine Monitor field visits to Anlong Veng and Trapeng Prasat, February 2000.
[22] Interview with CMAC Director General Sam Sotha, Phnom Penh, 16 February 1999.
[23] Interview, Cambodian Red Cross, 21 January 2000.
[24] Phnom Penh Post, November 1999, p. 14.
[25] Financial Report, 12th Steering Committee Meeting, CMAC Trust Fund, Phnom Penh, 25 April 2000.
[26] UNDP Memo, Claude Grahame to Dominique McAdam, Phnom Penh , 18 April 2000.
[27] Cambodia Daily, 12 May 2000, p. 7.
[28] Halo Trust, “Socio-Economic Land Use Report,” October 1999.
[29] MAG Briefing Paper, December 1999.
[30] NPA Report to Landmine Monitor, 17 December 1999.
[31] CMAC Database, 3 May 2000.
[32] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. 64.
[33] General Population Census of Cambodia, 1998, p. 28. Battambang has a population of 791,589 and Banteay Meanchey 577,300.
[34] Halo Trust report, 1999.
[35] UNHCR statistics, Phnom Penh, May 1999.
[36] Interview with PMU Demining Unit, CMAC, Siem Reap. For details see CMAC Database, 3 May 2000.
[37] CMAC Database, 3 May 2000.
[38] Interview with CMAC, Mr. Mao Vanna, 3 May 2000.
[39] CMAC Statistical Profile 1998; Information obtained from CMAC, MAG, and Halo Trust, January 2000.
[40] Halo Trust, Socio-Economic Land Use Report 1992-99, p.120.
[41] Information on MAG activities provided via email by Tim Carstairs, MAG Communications Director, 28 July 2000.
[42] UNDP Memo, Claude Grahame to Dominique McAdam, UNDP Phnom Penh , 18 April 2000.
[43] Law to Prohibit the Use of Anti-Personnel Mines, Article 5.
[44] Telephone interview with Australian Ambassador Malcolm Lederer, 8 May 2000.
[45] CMAC White Paper 2000, December 1999, p.18.
[46] LUPU Report to Landmine Monitor, March 2000.
[47] NGO Statement to the 2000 Consultative Group Meeting on Cambodia, p. 47.
[48] Ibid., p. 50.
[49] Halo Trust/AAR, Socio-Economic Land Use Report, October 1999.
[50] Halo Trust/AAR, Socio-Economic Land Use Report, October 1999. In a 28 July 2000 email to Landmine Monitor, a HALO official noted that “this is the solitary example from 120 separate cleared areas.”
[51] The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines has other examples of misuse of cleared lands.
[52] CMAC, Socio-Economic Assessment on Cleared Mine Fields, 27 April 2000.
[53] Moira O’Leary, Oxfam, letter to Landmine Monitor, 13 December 1999.
[54] Information provided to Landmne Monitor via email by Tim Carstairs, MAG Communications Director, 28 July 2000.
[55] Interview with Tan Sung Hao, CMAC Department of Mine Awareness Education.
[56] The following information comes from the Cambodia Mine Incident Database, Monthly Report, March 2000; and, Cambodian Red Cross and Handicap International, “Cambodia Mine Incident Database Project, Casualty Trend, 1998-2000: Reported mine/UXO casualties by Month, Reporting Period: January 1998-May 2000,” dated 13 June 2000.
[57] Disability Action Council, “Disability Data Base Study,” 1999.
[58] Information in this section was provided by the named organizations for the purposes of the Landmine Monitor.
[59] Data gathering in Jesuit Service Disabled Outreach as of 31 March 2000.
[60] Ministry of Finance Report, 5 April 2000.
[61] Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Article 72.
[62] Medicam Statement Human Rights Supplement, Cambodia Daily, April 2000.