"Land mines are the perfect soldiers: they never sleep, and they never die. However, they also don't know which side they're on, or when the war is over."- Touj Souerly, Chief of Veal Thom, landmine survivorLand mines, the cheap dirty weapons of warfare aim to maim, rather than kill people and stop machinery. First developed in World War 1, they are used tooverload the countries support system. Currently there are approximately 70million land mines; located in 69 countries many of these are the poorer or theless developed countries of the world. These countries already struggle to'survive or develop and the impact of changes indicated by land mines issignificant. Both the population and society, along with the environment areeffected, usually with devastating results. Cambodia is one such country andthis report explores the impact,changes and effects that landmines has on it...
Different types of Landmines and how do they function?Cambodia is just one of 64 countries around the world littered with around 100 millionanti-personnel landmines.
Hidden devices which lie and wait, the mines contain a smallamountof high explosives and are intended primarily to maim. You can catergorize alllandmines into two main groups,Antipersonnel (AP) and Antitank (AT).
Antipersonnel mines are split up into three general groups...
Bounding AP mines also known as 'Bouncing betties' these mines are set off by aslittle as 1.5kg.When it has been set off it lifts up to waist height and detonates fully,shooting out fragments of metal.It shoots them out horizontially.The pieces of metal can kill up to35m away.
Explosive blast effect AP Landmines,These landmines are most commonly found asthey are easy to manufacture and are sold at as little as $3.They are made to project yourlower leg into your thigh area pushing your bone straight up.As it explodes it pushes dirt alsointo your leg causing infection which will result in a higher amputation.
Lastly Fragmentation AP Landmines these mines are practically just stuffed withsmall peices of sharp metal turned into lethal projectiles when detonated.They damage yourlegs,stomach and chest.The picture below is of an antipersonnel mine-one that has acharge that lifts to waist height.
Then you have your Antitank Landmines known as the big killers there designed toincapacitate tanks,trucks etc.They can be triggere by 14kg or more.When a light weightvehicle detonates an antitank mine there isnt much hope for the vehicle as it will mostdefinitely be destroyed.Antitank mines cause multiple casualties at a time.
A pressure-operated Anti-tank mine is circular wirh a pressure plate on top,underneaththat is a firing pin.When a vehicle drives over the pressure plate it forces the firing pin intothe detonator which fires off the first charge which detonates the main charge which is TNT.The picture below is of an antitank mine filled with tnt.
There are over 600 different types of landmines.One sold for about $3 will take $1000 toremove.So in overview Antipersonnel (AP) mines either project metal fragments or have apropelling charge that shoots up and then shoots out metal fragments on a 360 horizontalarc both just as devastating.Antitank mines are just one massive explosion using chemicals and compounds that have catastrophic effects not only on their victim but their family,community and ultimately the environment they live in.
Why are landmines used in Cambodia and why do so many people get injured or killed by them?Landmines first came to air in Cambodia in 1967 when the North Vietnamese army laid the first landmines in Cambodia they continued to do this throughout the Vietnam war period to protect their bases and supply routes.
America laid mines and dropped bombs also from 1969 to 1973 in Cambodia.Next in 1974-1979 Khmer Rouge placed landmines on the borders of Cambodia between Vietnam and Thailand this turned the country into what they called a 'prison without walls'.
All of the landmine laying was done when there was war or conflict.Unlike weaponswhich leave when the war is over, un-exploded mines stay hidden waiting dormant until aninnocent civilian detonates it.
Landmines were used to defend millitary positions they added additional protection for the forces.Khmer Rouge liked to use them especially for channeling movement laying mines in certain areas means that it prevents vehicles carrying cargo etc. to move through placesthat Khmer Rouge didnt want them to go.
Landmines were also used to defend vital sources like oil,gas and water pipelines,bridges,dams and railways this prevented the enemy from damaging or attacking theresources.
Landmines were a good weapon in war because they didnt always kill their victims most of time just taking off a limb,this was a smart move for the enemy trying to get inbecause it over-loaded the countries hospitals and support systems.
Cambodias population is largely farmers-people working out with the animals orcrops.This is most of the populations only income and to support thier families they have tobe able to farm as much land as they can even if there is a risk of landmines.This is why so many people are maimed or killed.30% of landmine victims each year are 15 and under,this is because everyday activities for youth are now dangerous-collecting firewood,picking fruitetc.
Lots of youth are maimed or killed by landmines because they see them and think it is a toy and cant resist playing with it. The pie graphs below show the percentages of women,children and men injured by landmines and the second one shows what children were doing when they were injured by landmines.
I think the fact that there are so MANY mines in Cambodia that it defintely raises thechances of stepping on a mine.C.M.A.C-Cambodian Minc Action Centre says that theremay be as many as six million mines still laid in Cambodia,In random fields,small villagesand even in streams and rivers.To every 290 people one is an amputee this placesCambodia into one of the highest amputee rates in the world.
In conclusion landmines were used primarily when war occured.Sadly they did not leave Cambodia when the war was over they stay waiting dormant until not a soldier but aninnocent man,woman or child steps on them going about their usual day by day routine,which will now be forever changed.
The effects Landmines have on the environment and society...
Cambodia, home to 10 million people , is also home to millions of landmines. War hasinjured the country socially, culturally and economically and the effects are visible in many ways but perhaps the most obvious is the number of children, men and women wearingprosthetics or in wheelchairs.
When a person becomes a survivor of a mine explosion they often lose a limb andbecause there is so much demand for prosthetics lots of people often don't receive one.
Left with one leg or one arm,they often feel a burden on their family and community/village.This is why there is such a high suicide rate.In most cases the survivors former job is nowdifficult or impossible to do because of the missing limb.Amputees are sometimes evenshunned from their community.
When a parent is injured by a mine one of the siblings could have to leave school totake care of the rest of the family e.g younger siblings,injured parent they also would have towork to make some kind of income to help out the family this is a huge responsibility for theteenager.Medical care for the amputee or injured family member is expensive some familiesjust cant afford it and others go into huge debt trying to pay medical bills.
When a mine detonates it not only mutilates or kills a human or animal it also rips uphe land around it.Antipersonnel mines fire off metal fragments these pollute the streams and rivers near by.Landmines cause a chain reaction of events against the environment...
Landmine detonates,soil degradation,deforestation,water is polluted all of these factors may seem small by themselves but when it is all added up it can alter entire spieces.Habitatsslowly disintergrate to the constant flow of explosions,maybe causing extinction because of loss of home/habitat.
In Cambodia there are huge economic costs caused by landmines.Transportation of goods takes longer because the drivers have to take extra care on the roads because of the danger of driving on alandmine.Its difficult for teachers,doctors & nurses to get tomine-affected communities.This makes access to medication,education,food,oil and other resources limited.Land is left un-farmedif there is known mines which is a big loss to the community.
Communities often have no choice but to graze & put crops inpossible mined land.When a community doesnt have enoughagricultural productivity they often have to resort to foreign assistance,a mine takes hundreds of dollars to clear & when a country isrecovering from former conflict it is increasingly harder to come upwith the money.
Alot of the time survivors of landmines have to travel longdistances to get treatment because they cant get it locally.When aperson is injured by a mine they need lots of blood because they would have lost so much in the explosion and often the blood isnt availableor hasnt been tested for aids/HIV or any other diseases.
Anaesthetic often isnt available when a patient needsan amputation.Patients need lots of rest after an operationup to 32 days in hospital.When the wounds heal they need physical therapy and prostheticswhich arn't always available,30% of survivors get artificial limbs.The prosthetics cost $125 a piece.Which most familys cannot afford.
Mines were placed by the thousand along Cambodian borders by Khmer Rouge backin 1975, many still hidden and waiting there, many refugees are injured there fleeing warstriken areas.Refugees dont receive mine awareness training and since they are a movingpopulation its difficult for them to get medical care if injured by a mine.
The environment Cambodians live in has changed dramatically since landmines werefirst laid, now parents have to worry about whether or not their children will be safe gettinghome after school simply because they could miss a warning sign and stumble right over alandmine. The economy struggles becuase so much land is put to waste as it is mined andcan't be used.Communities have to rely on foreign assistance and patients dont have always have access to antibiotics and anaethestic.Ultimately Cambodias past withlandmines has effected and changed the present now and the future to come.
Landmines have created huge changes in Cambodia.This poor country hasstruggled to cope with the short and long term effects since landmines wereplaced there.Peoples lives,particularly the casualities are changed forever.
Familys roles are reversed with an amputee parent feeling like a burden and a young teenager out in the fields working for the family income.People living inconstant fear who will be next? Their neighbour,daughter or husband? Theenvironment changes from the effects as well.Polluted streams with debris from explosions,metals and chemicals.Wild farm land left unproductive unable tobe farmed because of mines.A key impact is the economic impact that all ofthis has-The cost of demining alone is huge but it is the on going social cost ofsupporting the casualties and the effects on them that drains on the alreadystruggling country.Someone from the family will have to stay home and takecare of the amputee which stops the able from earning an income.After an average of 4 operations for the victim he/she has to stay in hospital for 32days to recover which puts alot of pressure on the hospital and country.Such a tinyobject with such a huge impact.
References-ÃÂ·www.library.thinkquest.orgÃÂ·www.cmaa.gov.kh/land_mine/historyÃÂ·www.associatedcontent.com/article/cambodias_landmine_tragedyÃÂ·www.care.org/newsroom/specialreports/landmineÃÂ·www.icbl.org/youth/issue/youth.htmlÃÂ·www.landmines.org/crisis/landmine_fact_sheetÃÂ·www.science.howstuffworks.com/landmineÃÂ·Social studies work bookÃÂ·Landmine Video (watched in class)