MINE ACTION CAMBODIA – DIT SIM
Landmines were discovered all around the fields near the village shop.
My name is Dit Sim and this is my son Sim Sreyda, he is 3 months old. We are sitting in my mother’s shop that I have worked in for the last 10 years. Until recently the land surrounding our shop has been full of landmines. Our trade has been from the people who live close by and travellers on the nearby main road.
That all changed since APOPO and CMAC came to search the land for landmines. They have been slowly working up and past us, along the old road that was riddled with landmines during the war.
In the fields near the shop they found about 50 landmines. These are often homemade mines; a small battery and a connector into a plastic bag full of explosive powder. They do not kill people outright, but maim them, often by injuring their foot or lower leg. If one soldier in a unit is maimed in this way, it slows them all down and that’s the purpose.
But after the war finished, the mines were just left there but nobody knew where. Accidents were happening everywhere. Do you know that Cambodia has more landmine accident victims with amputated limbs than anywhere else in the world? Many of the nearby farmers and their families are affected. It is tragic to hear about, especially because many people had to continue to work in the fields that are their livelihoods.
But finally APOPO and CMAC arrived with their big machines and the little rats we had heard so much about. They cleared the area of landmines very quickly and moved on. We are very happy about this.
For my shop it has been very good. Previously we had a few customers, but now many people have moved back to the area because it is safe, and they bring farm workers with them. They all need food and snacks and candles and drinks. Business has gone up and we are doing very well. And the farmers are too because they can now produce without limitations. This is what happens when the terror of landmines is lifted.