Iki Futoshi (Teacher at Eiko Gakuen Middle High School)

Cambodian Tun Channareth, good-will Ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and Bishop Enrique Figaredo (Kike) of Battambang Catholic diocese will pay a two-week visit to Japan, for a public lecture campaign, starting May 20th. Tun Channareth (Reth) has been invited to my own school to speak to all the students.

Last month I attended the International Seminar that was held from the 20 to the 28 of March in Cambodia. It would be natural that I should report on it expressing my feelings, but instead of doing that, I preferred to put together relevant background materials that would help to understand better the messages from our Cambodian visitors.

The materials provided here are educational tools for the students of my school to prepare this event. Since other schools and organizations have invited Reth and Bishop Kike, they could also maybe find these materials helpful. For those who can not find time to go through all the materials, I prepared a Q & A short edition, easy to understand at first glance. (Editor's note: this English text only deals with the shorter edition)

I apologize for doing hastily my article. You will probably find some imperfect expressions in my work. Do not hesitate to convey your corrections and criticism to me. I will be happy about it. Again, in case you would like to use these data to produce your own educational materials, please, contact me and I will send you the file by Fax or e-mail.

Mr. Iki Futoshi, Eiko Gakuen, Tamanawa 4-1-1, Kamakura-shi PC. 247-0071, or
e-mail: f-iki@fan.hi-ho.ne.jp

Most of the information has been taken from ICBL's Landmine Monitor Report 2001

Q 1
 What kind of Weapons are Anti-Personnel Mines?  
Mines are produced cheaply and can be easily placed anywhere by anybody. They are used in big quantities during military clashes and civil wars that have spread nowadays all around the world. Mines are inhuman weapons that remain semi-permanent located and injure indiscriminately innocent people. Mine clearance is very expensive and requires a lot of time. As dangerous as mines there are bombshells dropped during wars from planes and rockets that did not exploded. Such unexploded ordnance is called UXO.
Q 2
 Who are the Victims of Landmines?
 About 93% of those injured in Cambodia, even after the war is over, are ordinary people that have to go through minefields to work in the forest or to draw water from springs.
Q 3
 How many mines remain planted in Cambodia and how many people have been injured by landmines?
 Nobody exactly knows the figures, but it is a guess that there are still six million mines planted in Cambodia. According to figures released by the Cambodia mine Action Center (CMAC 1996) there were at that time 4,000 casualties a year. From 1980 to 1995, landmines claimed 2,000 victims a year. (See JCBL Newsletter n. 13) One out of 236 in Cambodia are landmine victims. If one considers the economic suffering and psychological traumas which the families of the victims have to experience the casualties are much higher. Recently, casualties have been reduced, but in the year 2000 802 persons became newly injured by mines and UXO.
Q 4
 Why there are so many mines planted in Cambodia? 
  During the Vietnam-American War, both, the North Vietnam and American armies planted mines in Cambodia. Almost all the mines existing in Cambodia now are the work of different Cambodian factions that fought civil wars from the '70s to the '90s. People from all different sides planted indiscriminately mines through Cambodian soil to avoid the intrusion of the enemy side into their land. Mines were placed not only near military camps, but also in villages and in the forests.
Q 5
 How much time and what is the cost of mine clearance? 
 The cost of clearing just one mine could cost from US $300 to US$1,000. The only sure way now for a 100% land clearance is to do it by hand and thus, long time will be required to totally clear the land of mines. During the last 10 years, 14,000 k㎡ of land were cleared of mines in Cambodia and about 30,000 mines were destroyed. HALO Trust demining NGO told us, during our International Seminar, that it would probably take 10 more years before the most strategic land for the daily life of Cambodians and their priority transportation roads are cleared of mines.
Q 6
Will there be a final solution to all Cambodian problems once mine clearance is finished?
Even if most landmines disappear from Cambodian soil there is a need to assist the victims and their families. The new communities, established in mine cleared villages, need financial and other assistance to become self-sufficient. Government officials and military generals, as well as rich people bribing them, take often in unjust ways, the land that has been already cleared of mines.
Q 7
 Are there any movements in the world directed to the abolishment of mines?
NGOs from all over the world have joined their efforts together to abolish all mines and established the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). As a result of this movement, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (1997 Mine Ban Treaty) was open for signature from 3 December 1997 until its entry into force, which was 1 March 1999. As of 1 August 2001, there were 140 signatories and 118 ratifications. ICBL, through its coalition of more than 1,400 non-governmental organizations in over 90 countries, monitors and reports on the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Jody Williams, promoter of ICBL, and Tun Channareth, ICBL's international Ambassador, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.
Q 8
What is the Japanese government doing for banning landmines and for assisting landmine victims?
Japan has destroyed many anti-personnel mines that were held by the Japan Defense Agency and has also provided big amounts of funds and goods for demining purposes and assistance to landmine victims. However, there is a need to scrutiny and monitor the content of the assistance given and how are the funds used.
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