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Mine Clearance Activist Earns CNN 'Hero' Honor

An image of Cambodia Self-Help Demining organization website.
An image of Cambodia Self-Help Demining organization website.

A Cambodian demining activist has been chosen as a “Hero” by the international broadcaster CNN, in work that was also recognized by the US State Department.

Aki Ra, 40, a former child soldier of the Khmer Rouge, established the Cambodia Self-Help Demining organization in 2008, to help people clear their land of the remnants of Cambodia's warring past.

In a statement, the State Department said it “saluted” his work and his designation as one of CNN's Heros.

Bill Morse, international project manager for the group, said he was delighted to have recognition from the State Department. The demining organization has helped clear some 160,000 square meters of mines, focusing mainly on the war-troubled northwest, he said.

The State Department provided a $100,000 grant for 2009 and 2010 to help Aki Ra's team, the agency said in a statement. “Since 1993, the US Humanitarian Mine Action Program has invested more than $71 million in humanitarian mine action in Cambodia,” it said.

The Cambodian Mine Action Committee says mine and ordnance casualties fell from 271 to 243 from 2008 to 2009.