Cambodia: unexploded devices found near school

09 November 2011

More than 100 exploding devices found within five kilometres of a school threaten the lives of students and villagers. Phnom Kpaus, Cambodia. (Javier Olaguivel/JRS)

Battambang (Cambodia), 9 November 2011 – More than 100 unexploded devices have been found near a small school in northwestern Cambodia.

The unexploded devices – including  anti-personnel landmines, anti-vehicle weapons and cluster munitions – were found within a five square kilometre radius of the school and some as close as 100 metres from areas where the school children and villagers frequent on a daily basis.

The school, situated in the Phnom Kpaus village of approximately 500 inhabitants, is attended by 84 students.

“Fortunately, in the last week the whole village has been littered with signs reminding the inhabitants of the existence of these deadly devices”, said Javier Olaguivel, who works in the nearby diocese of Battambang and cooperates with JRS in Cambodia.

“As you can see anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs in Cambodia continue to be not just an isolated issue but a day-to-day problem that’s far from being resolved. There are still more than four million landmines and cluster bombs waiting to destroy people’s lives even in supposedly safe areas, such as Phnom Kpaus village”, continued Mr Olaguivel.

“It’s heart breaking to see Cambodians forced to live and work in areas marked by the ‘Danger!! Mine!!’ signs because they don’t have anywhere else to go or any other way of making ends meet”, added Mr Olaguivel.

According to JRS, situations as flagrant as these remind us that much more help is needed not only in Cambodia but in many other heavily mined countries before the remnants of war are effectively cleared. Moreover, it also clearly underlines the importance of banning the production, stockpiling and use of these weapons.

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