More than 2,000 pieces of war-era unexploded ordnance (UXO) were discovered buried on the campus of Queen Kosamak High School in northeastern Kratie province, Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) experts conducted a three-day operation to clear the site and unearthed a range of explosive munitions, highlighting the ongoing impact of decades of internal conflicts and a US bombing campaign on the country.
Unearthing the UXO
During a clearance operation conducted between August 11 and 13, CMAC’s Remnants of War crew recovered 2,116 portions of unexploded ordnance at the college campus. Among the objects determined had been 2,033 M79 grenades, sixty-three DK75 rounds, 18 Fuse M48 shells, one H107 bullet, and one B40 bullet. The discovery become made after the college cleared land for lawn expansion.
Ongoing Issue in Cambodia
Cambodia has been seriously stricken by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs)as a result of decades of internal conflicts and military campaigns, including a US bombing campaign. It is estimated that between 4 to 6 million landmines and munitions remain in the country. The US had dropped over 230,000 bombs on Cambodia between 1965 and 1973, contributing to the pervasive presence of unexploded munitions.
Impact on Cambodia’s Population
The presence of landmines and explosive remnants has had a devastating impact on Cambodia’s population.According to the government’s modern day report, from 1979 to June 2023, explosions brought about bylandmines and ERWs resulted in 19,821 deaths and left 45,205 individuals either injured or amputated. The legacy of these explosive devices continues to pose a significant threat to civilians.
Government Response and International Awareness
The Cambodian government, along with organizations like CMAC, has been working to address the issue of unexploded ordnance and landmines. However, the recent discovery at Queen Kosamak High School underscores the ongoing challenges in ensuring the safety of communities.
The US bombings on Cambodia during the 1960s and 1970s have been widely criticized for causing civilian casualties. The Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Techo Hun Sen, has referred to these bombings as a “vicious undeclared war,” and their impact continues to be felt in the country.
The discovery of over 2,000 portions of war-technology unexploded ordnance at Queen Kosamak High School highlights the ongoing danger posed by the legacy of internal conflicts and military campaigns in Cambodia. Efforts by organizations like CMAC are crucial in clearing these explosive devices and ensuring the safety of the population, but the scale of the challenge remains significant.