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Cambodia: Red Cross marathon against mines

26-05-1999 News Release 99/21

To raise awareness of the plight of war victims and especially of people injured by anti-personnel mines, Chris Moon is attempting to run the length of Cambodia, from the northern town of Poipet to the southern port of Sihanoukville. Chris set off from the Thai-Cambodian border on 15 May and hopes to reach Sihanoukville by 31 May. The 700-km run is taking him through some of the country's most heavily mined areas.

Chris is well placed to talk about the problems encountered by mine victims. This former deminer, who in the past worked at clearing the fields in northwestern Cambodia which are now supporting the families of returnees, lost his lower right arm and his right leg during mine-clearance operations in Mozambique in 1995. The accident did not discourage him: less than a year after leaving hospital Chris completed the London Marathon in just over five and a half hours, raising funds for Cambodian mine victims. Since then he has undertaken several fund-raising runs for charities assisting the disabled, and in February 1998 he carried the Olympic torch into the stadium at the Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan.

" I do not consider myself a victim " , says Chris, " I chose to be a deminer. People living in areas infested by mines do not have a choice. " For the Cambodian run he is receiving logistic support from the ICRC and is being encouraged by hundreds of Red Cross volunteers who gather to cheer him on his way.

While mine clearance has significantly reduced the threat to civilians in some areas, Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. To demonstrate their support for the run and for the Ottawa treaty, which Cambodia is in the process of ratifying, the local authorities in Battambang province organized the destruction of a stockpile of some 700 mines and munitions in the presence of the media.