© P.Biro/Handicap International Belgium
Handicap International’s goal in Cambodia is to support a better future for people with disabilities and to take action to prevent the causes of disability.
Injuries from explosions caused by landmines and other explosive weapons as well as road traffic accidents are a leading cause of disability in Cambodia. We work to make land safe from weapons of war and promote road safety, and also provide physical rehabilitation services and produce and fit prosthetic limbs and orthoses. Our projects also focus on tackling barriers to inclusion and activities to prevent the development of disabling impairments.
In 1982, Handicap International’s story began with a commitment made by a group of French doctors to help disabled Cambodian refugees living in the vast Khao I Dang camp across the border in Thailand. With no other support available, these doctors began fitting prosthetic limbs and orthoses for those in need. Most of the amputees living in the camp were victims of landmines. As the organisation grew, so did its fight against these weapons, a fight which led to the creation of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and eventually the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.
As our work in the camps continued, rehabilitation services were developed for all those in need and when people began returning to Cambodia in 1991, we went along with them to ensure that people could access the services they needed. In 1993 our demining and mine risk education activities in Cambodia began.
Few countries are as contaminated by landmines and other explosive weapons as Cambodia. Mines were laid by the Khmer Rouge regime, other armed groups and subsequent governments, and 26 million submunitions were dropped over Cambodia during the Vietnam war. In 2010 it was estimated that at least 715 square kilometres of land was still mined and there were approximately 5.8 million unexploded weapons contaminating ground. At the Kampong Cham rehabilitation centre, which is supported by Handicap International, one in five of the patients seen in 2011 were the victims of landmines or other explosive weapons. Road traffic accidents are also a major cause of disability and the number of accidents has risen in recent years.
• Human Development Index: 139th out of 187
• Life expectancy: 63 years
• Population: 15.1 million
Source: UNDP HDR 2011