New US-funded Project Will Clear Mines from Contaminated Land
Humanity & Inclusion
(March 27, 2021) — Three decades after the end of conflict, landmines and other explosive weapons continue to contaminate parts of Cambodia–making it unsafe for people to live and farm and limiting access to resources in some regions. These weapons remain an obstacle in more than 6,400 of Cambodia’s 14,300 villages.
To protect civilians, Humanity & Inclusion has teamed up with the local organization Cambodia Self-Help Demining (CSHD) to launch a new project to remove explosive weapons, teach locals how to stay safe and avoid explosive remnants of war, and create long-term mine action plans in Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces.
The 12-month, $500,000 project is funded by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the US Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.
Humanity & Inclusion’s team will support CSHD in surveying land, removing landmines and explosive ordnance, and raising awareness among residents. The ultimate goal is to see CSHD build its own capacity to manage an autonomous mine clearance operation in Cambodia by 2025.
“We are excited to take on such an important project working alongside local villages to ensure people can live and work safely, without fear of losing their lives or limbs to explosive weapons,” says Emmanuel Sauvage, director of the Armed Violence Reduction unit at Humanity & Inclusion. “We are grateful to the US government for recognizing the danger these leftover weapons pose for civilians in their everyday lives and for the support to develop sustainable local mine action capacities.”
In recent decades, organizations like Humanity & Inclusion have assisted the Cambodian government in its efforts to become mine free. With support from the US government and other donors, organizations have removed more than 1 million landmines and 3 million other explosive remnants of war from approximately 700 square miles of land. But civilians are still in danger in another 772 square miles of land that is contaminated by such weapons.
Humanity & Inclusion counts more than 25 years of experience in mine action and first started clearing weapons in Cambodia in 1994. CSHD is a local organization that works to remove weapons in rural villages. The organization was founded in 2007, by a former Khmer child soldier. This new project will support at least 35 staff in mine action activities, directly benefitting at least 500 people and indirectly helping more than 12,000 people across the two provinces have safer access to their land and resources.
More than half of the world’s countries are contaminated by explosive remnants of war, including landmines and cluster munitions.
These weapons can lie dormant for many years, claiming victims long after a conflict has ended. They are a significant cause of disability, instilling fear in whole communities, deepening poverty and acting as a lethal barrier to development.
Faced with the devastation caused by antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions, Humanity & Inclusion realized that medical care alone would not be enough. We therefore made a commitment to work on all levels to help mine victims and their communities lead independent lives.
In five years of war, Yemen has experienced every manner of explosive weapons — aerial bombs and missiles, artillery, mortars, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and much more. The explosions destroy bridges, ports, roads, hospitals, water systems, and generate long lasting civilian harm. A June 2020 Humanity & Inclusion report highlights six case studies, showing the extent and impact of such bombings. Download the report, “Death Sentence to Civilians: The Long-Term Impact of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas in Yemen.”
Stop Bombing Civilians
During recent armed conflicts, explosive weapons have been used on a massive scale, killing and injuring thousands of civilians. When explosive weapons are used in populated areas, a shocking 92% of casualties are civilians. Humanity & Inclusion is working to build a movement to stop the bombing of civilians.
ACTION: SIGN THE PETITION TODAY. I Call on All States Worldwide to:
- Publicly commit to end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas;
- Fully implement the treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions without delay and encourage non-signatory states to sign them;
- Contribute to assisting the victims, clearing weapons in affected zones, and preventing further injuries and deaths.
Weapons Clearance, Risk Education, and Victim Assistance
Over the years, Humanity & Inclusion has evolved into the world’s most comprehensive mine action organization, working to prevent accidents through education and clearance, and to support the victims.
Our donors make it possible to train and deploy teams of deminers to identify and clear conventional and improvised weapons from the paths of civilians. We work to educate the local population, especially children, how to spot, avoid, and report the weapons they find. Such lessons are especially vital to impart to people returning home after conflict-induced displacement.
People who survive the blasts and burns of war are in desperate need of rehabilitation. Through physical therapy and psychosocial support, Humanity & Inclusion teams work to restore the physical and mental strength of survivors. When physical recovery has advanced, it’s often possible to fit artificial limbs and braces to ensure that the survivor can regain their mobility, and with that independence. To smooth their reintegration into the community, our inclusion specialists work with survivors to ensure their access to education, income-generating activities and decent work, and sport.
Decades of Campaigning to Protect Civilians
Humanity & Inclusion was created in 1982 (under the name Handicap International) in response to the horrific landmine injuries suffered by Cambodian refugees. Soon, we realized that action needed to be taken at an international level to ban these indiscriminate weapons.
Humanity & Inclusion played a key role in founding the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, for which we were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, following the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997.
We are a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, and we actively support the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which came into effect on August 1, 2010. Humanity & Inclusion is also a founder and coordinating member of Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which monitors these two international treaties and produces annual reports on their implementation. And we are a founding member of the International Network on Explosive Weapons.
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