Mine reduction officials credit a more ambitious education program for aiding the decline in casualties from land mines so far in 2003.
Compared to the first 11 months of 2002, the number of victims has decreased in 2003 by 100—roughly 12 percent, said Khem Sophoan, director of the Cambodian Mine Action Center.
At of the end of November, 694 people had been killed or injured this year by mines left strewn across the country after decades of war. Mines claimed 794 victims in the first 11 months of 2002. CMAC is expected report the full year’s statistics by the end of January
The most victims this year have been in Pailin’s Salakraov district, where 78 people have been maimed or killed, according to CMAC figures.
Khem Sophoan says education squads, composed of 20 to 40 volunteers, have expanded into seven new districts this year and contributed to greater awareness among villagers.
The campaign is being carried out in Pailin and in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces, and is now reaching 13 districts, Khem Sophoan said
The teams were able to reach only six districts last year, he said.
CMAC’s campaign uses television, and radio and printed media to educate people about how to deal with mines and unexploded ordnance, he said.
Still “some people are not understanding,” Khem Sophoan said.
The mine problem was highlighted Tuesday when two people were critically injured by ordnance in Bek Chen commune, Ang Snoul district, Kandal province.
Ten Sok, 34, and his 33-year-old wife, Pheing Nat, are the eighth and ninth victims of mines and unexploded ordnance in Ang Snoul this year, said district police Chief Vein Siven.
Police say the couple was scavenging for scrap metal to sell when they found the bomb and tried to crack it open. They suffered multiple injuries from the shrapnel, Vein Siven said.