Cambodia landmine survivors featured in photo exhibition

Published: 15 April 2008 0:00 CET

Around six million landmines were laid in Cambodia from 1978 until the end of 1989, mostly along the Thai border. Many of them are hidden, waiting silently for children or farmers to accidentally step on them.

“Maybe the mines washed down the mountain with the rains,” says Soeun Rem, 27, who for years planted soy beans with her father. They never knew there were landmines on their farm until one exploded while she was digging, changing her life forever.

Children account for more than 30 per cent of people injured by landmines in Cambodia, many while playing outside.

Photographer Somira Sao, who escaped from Cambodia at age three with her parents, recently returned to her homeland with the Red Cross to capture the stories of landmine survivors.

‘The landmine projects were painful and sad to witness. In Pailin, it was so disturbing to see how innocent people continue to be affected day-to-day by a war that is supposed to be over,’ Somira says.

The striking images are currently featured in an exhibition in the High Court of Australia in Canberra from 14 – 23 April.

The Landmine Survivors' Assistance Programme is funded by AusAID – the Australian government’s overseas aid programme – and managed by Australian Red Cross. It focuses on reducing the vulnerability of survivors of landmines and other unexploded ordnance, their families and affected communities in Cambodia.

To read more about how the Red Cross works with victims of landmines in Cambodia, visit the ICRC website.