King Calls for Ban on Use of Land Mines

ang snuol district, Kandal prov­ince – King Norodom Siha­moni on Wednesday vowed to continue support for land mine victims and appealed for a ban on the use and production of land mines of all kinds.

Speaking at the launch of the 2004 Landmine Monitor Report, King Sihamoni spoke of the devastation caused by land mines left scattered throughout the country by decades of warfare.

“The Cambodian people have faced those mines and they will continue to face them for many years in the future,” he said. “We, all together, will ban land mines and help victims [of] land mines.”

Cambodia—one of the worst land mine and unexploded ordnance affected countries in the world—spends about $20 million annually on mine clearance ef­forts, ac­cording to the report prepared by the Cambodia Cam­paign to Ban Landmines.

In 2003, 41.7 million square meters of land were cleared of mines here, about 20 percent more than were cleared in 2002, the report said. In 2003, 772 mine and unexploded ordnance casualties were reported, including 115 deaths. But showing the “first up­trend in many years,” there were 671 casualties in the first eight months this year, the report said.

The provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Mean­­­chey and Pailin remain most affected by mines and unexploded ordnance, it said.

Khem Sophoan, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, said Wednesday he hoped that the King’s ap­peal will elicit more international support to clear land mines in the country.

“The King’s declaration is a message to the world,” he said. “I hope those countries will stop producing land mines, gradually.”

At Wednesday’s ceremony held at the Jesuit Services’ Place of the Dove, a training center for the disabled, King Sihamoni was greeted by about 200 land mine and unexploded ordnance victims.

He delivered $5,000 to Jesuit Services, donated by retired King Norodom Sihanouk to support anti-land mine activities.





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