Cambodia

#UKAidWorks: Helping communities walk free from fear in Cambodia

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Being able to walk to work is often seen as a privilege - it's a choice many of us in Britain would make if we were able to.

Imagine a commute free of the worries of late-running trains, overcrowded busses and traffic jams.

In remote areas of Cambodia, however, where walking to work is more common, the worries are very different.

Walking to work is a potential death sentence in one of the most mined nations in the world.

Nharn Thoeurn, 46, works to support his wife and six children in Phnum Rai Village, Battambang Province. He walks to work every day.

He, along with his neighbours, use the same path to access the rice fields on which their livelihoods depend.

The path is littered with the explosive remnants of war, laying dormant but ready to unleash their indiscriminate violence on a community that has already suffered the terrible impacts of decades of conflict.

It was 2015 when Nharn felt the terrible force of one wrong step and triggered a landmine.

Nharn lost his leg.

With a family to feed, he couldn't afford to stop working - despite being all too aware of the explosive dangers that littered his community.

In 2019, tragedy struck again. This time Nharn was chopping firewood when he unsuspectingly triggered a landmine with his new prosthetic leg.

“I was lucky the second time. I didn’t lose a leg or my eyes. Maybe I won’t be so lucky the third time," said Nharn of his relatively minor injuries.

Nharn is not alone in having to live with the daily fear of injury and death. He lives in a community trapped by the fear - a community unable to live or work freely.

He is also not alone in having to carry on regardless, to support his family and his community.

But the fear is real. Nharn has been forced to scale back his farming operations and now focuses on work closer to home – like breeding chickens.

Hope for Nharn and thousands like him across Cambodia is armed with a landmine detector.

Impact of UK Aid funding in 2019

  • Land released and safely returned to communities 27,000,000sqm

  • Landmines and cluster bombs found and destroyed 23,670

  • People directly benefited from our work 389,000

Thanks to the support of British taxpayers and UK Aid, one of MAG's mine action teams in Cambodia is working to clear the area around Nharn Touern's village.

MAG is working to make it safe for people to farm so people like Nharn can feed their families free from fear.

There is still more to be done. Cambodia suffers from the legacy of both a brutal internal civil war and conflict in neighbouring Vietnam.

The wars may have ended decades ago, but families are still suffering. MAG is working to save lives and build a safer future for communities across Cambodia.

Communities where people are free to walk without fear, thanks to the vital support of British taxpayers.

In 2019, UK Aid funding has meant MAG was able to make safe more than 2 million square metres of land, finding and destroying almost 1,400 landmines, helping more than 33,000 people across Cambodia.