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US Booklet To Help Track Mine Victims

A new US State Department landmines guidebook could help Cambodian deminers and other authorities keep better data on casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance.

The 75-page “Landmine Casualty Data: Best Practices Guidebook” is designed to help agencies create a mine victim database, or improve existing databases, as well as providing victim assistance.

Khim Sophoan, director general for Cambodian Mine Action Clearance, said he had not seen the booklet, but added it could “fill our experience gap.”

Cambodia continues to be plagued with landmines, despite years of efforts to eradicate them, along with unexploded ordnance. But Khim Sophoan said the number of victims had steadily decreased since 1993.

There were, for example, 1,211 recorded victims in 1999 and 350 in 2007. So far this year, only 186 people have been injured by landmines or unexploded ordnance.

Earlier this week, two Thai soldiers were injured by landmines while patrolling the contentious border near Preah Vihear temple.

Battambang province, the site of some of the Khmer Rouge’s last stands against advancing government forces, remains the worst for landmines.

Khim Sophoan said the government planned to demine another 467 square kilometers by 2015 and have the country cleared of mines by 2020.

Critics say this will be difficult, with many mines still in the deep forests, where they can continue to injure or kill.

“I think if they want to have more effective landmine clearance, they should add more CMAC staff and add more mine detectors,” said Kouy Ny, who was injured by a mine and now works for an aid organization in Battambang.