It’s estimated that between four and six million landmines were laid throughout Cambodia’s rural areas during the country’s civil war. Today, around 200 people are maimed or killed by landmines each year in Cambodia, despite the fact that the country’s civil war ended decades ago.
While efforts to recover mines are ongoing and run by dedicated organisations, it is a curse that affects mostly poor people living in farmland areas, including children.
Signs proclaiming “Danger!! Mines!!” throughout Cambodia are a scary reminder of this country’s horrifying past.
Just outside of Siem Reap is a museum that is attempting to raise awareness of this issue as well as support victims of landmines.
The Cambodia Landmine Museum was founded by Aki Ra, a former child soldier who now dedicates his time to finding and recovering unexploded mines. He also supports an orphanage for landmine victims.
The museum has a huge array of landmines. Big ones, small ones, strangely shaped ones – all designed to do maximum damage. Unfortunately, most of that damage has been, and is being, done to innocent victims.
The museum hosts an interesting art collection, including sculptures made of weapons and heart-breaking paintings by children whose lives have been impacted by mines.
This museum is close to Banteay Srey Temple and is well worth adding on to a trip out to that temple. It’s certainly not a slick museum with glossy displays, but it is a necessity to help people understand the impact that landmines continue to have in this country.
You can find out more about the Cambodia Landmine Museum at http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/menu.html.