© 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 but also provide physical rehabilitation services; produce and fit prosthetic limbs and orthoses. Our activities in Cambodia support programmes to prevent the development of disabling impairments in young children; promote HIV/AIDS prevention programmes that are accessible to people with disabilities and work to develop activities to support the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of public life.
In 1982 Handicap International’s story began in a commitment made by a group of French doctors to help disabled Cambodian refugees living in the vast Khao I Dang refugee camp across the border in northern 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 and as the organisation grew so did the fight against these weapons, a fight which, led to the founding 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 with them to ensure that people could access the services they needed. In 1993 our demining and mine risk education activities began. These activities continue today, but our current projects cover a much wider area and also focus on tackling barriers to inclusion and activities to prevent the development of disabling impairments.
Mines planted by the Khmer Rouge regime, other armed groups and subsequent governments as well as 26 million cluster munitions dropped over Cambodia during the Vietnam war has left Cambodia as one of the most contaminated countries in the world. 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 on 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 by 10% in recent years.
• Human Development Index: 138th out of 187
• Life expectancy: 64 years
• Population: 14.5 million
Source: UNDP HDR 2013