Jordan’s Queen Noor landed in Phnom Penh on Sunday to highlight Cambodia’s cooperation on an international treaty to ban land mines and lobby other nations to do the same.
“Cambodia is one of the most mine-infested countries in the world, and they have led the way” by signing the worldwide land mine ban known as the Ottawa Convention, said Queen Noor, who is a patron of the Washington-based Landmine Survivors Network—a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize .
Cambodia, with millions of land mines left in the soil from decades of war, “also needs a great deal of international support for demining and human assistance for survivors,” the queen urged. Her trip to Cambodia follows visits to Vietnam and the US, where she urged leaders to sign the convention.
The Arab-American queen sat down with ambassadors from donor countries to discuss holding a regional land-mine conference and determine whether her group can “accelerate and strengthen” Cambodia’s existing programs.
Upon arrival, Queen Noor received a red-carpet reception at the Royal Palace, where she and Queen Norodom Monineath strolled through the gardens, watched traditional Khmer dance and chatted in French.
At her side was Landmine Survivors Network co-founder Jerry White, an American who in 1984 lost his leg to a land mine while camping in Northern Israel. He called Queen Noor a “global humanitarian” who stepped into Princess Diana’s role after her death in 1997. “People focus on the treaty, they focus on demining, and when it comes to the victims, it’s whatever crumbs are left,” he said.
The network is one of a handful of groups heading the much-larger umbrella, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and aims to go beyond providing emergency care to victims but “assure long-term social, economic and medical care,” Jerry White said.
He noted the group also hopes to open a Southeast Asia office but hinted it likely would do more good in Vietnam than Cambodia, where a significant number of NGOs already are in place.
On this three-day stop, the queen will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihanouk before heading to Siem Reap to visit land mine victims.