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Cambodia: Travelling exhibition on Ottawa treaty

10-02-2000 News Release 00/04

No one knows exactly how many Cambodian men, women and children have been killed or maimed by mines in recent decades. But for the survivors and their families every incident is a personal tragedy which we must not ignore.

During the month of February an exhibition showing the devastation caused by landmines will travel to three towns in Cambodia. The exhibition, to be mounted jointly by the ICRC and the Cambodian Red Cross Society in Kampong Chhnang, Battambang and Phnom Penh, focuses on the main obligations laid down by the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines, namely assistance to victims, destruction of stockpiles and mine clearance.

To date, 133 States have signed the treaty and 90 of them have also ratified it. Cambodia's ratification in 1999 reiterated the country's pledge never to use, develop, produce, stockpile or transfer anti-personnel mines, or to help anyone else to do so . The treaty also requires States Parties to destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines within four years. Last year, on the occasion of the Red Cross Marathon against Mines, Cambodia organized two symbolic events in Battambang and Kampong Chhnang during which stockpiles were destroyed.

Although the total number of deaths and injuries from mines and unexploded ordnance in Cambodia has continued to decrease, 1,005 casualties were reported in 1999. Provinces like Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Pailin seem to pay the heaviest toll.

The ICRC has been assisting Cambodian mine victims by setting up prost hetic workshops and training local technicians in the production of artificial limbs since 1979. Its physical rehabilitation programme in Battambang town is only one of 11 similar projects it runs all over the world. Last year, the ICRC fitted 703 new amputees and produced more than 1,500 artificial limbs, most of them for mine victims. It also manufactured over 9,000 prosthetic components and over 5,000 pairs of crutches. Some 80%   of the items produced were distributed free of charge to five other organizations operating in 15 physical rehabilitation centres   throughout Cambodia.