SLIDE SHOW of MY MISSION WITHIN THE CAMBODIAN MINE ACTION CENTRE 1997 Cdt Philippe PILLE, CMAC Senior Technical Advisor Explosive Ordnance Disposal (STA EOD)
Ca. 6.000.000 mines were laid in Cambodia during the last 40 years… Even more quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO) are littering countrywide… 500.000 tons of air-delivered bombs and bomblets were dropped above the Cambodian territory during the Vietnam war... … which currently still results in a monthly average of 100 casualties...
… Amputees are a widespread and common phenomenon in the countryside, as well as in the street scene of the capital Phnom Penh … Their number is to be estimated at about 40.000 ...
Silent witnesses of the Pol Pot regime: the Killing Fields of Battambang
The Cambodian Government established in June 1992 the Cambodian Mine Action Centre ( CMAC ) to continue the work that UNTAC had started under its Mine Clearance Program. CMAC is an official governmental Mine & UXO Clearance Agency and began its operations in November 1993 with support from UNDP and UNDHA . In 1995 it was given the authority to co-ordinate all mine & UXO action in Cambodia. By this CMAC became also the National Regulatory Authority for all mine & UXO action. At the time of my mission in 1997 CMAC employed overall ± 2600 Khmer staff of which 92% were fielded in 63 demining platoons , 20 EOD teams , 23 Mine Marking teams , 12 Mine & UXO Awareness teams and 8 Mine Survey teams . 8% staffed the national and provincial headquarters. During my tour of duty 48 expatriate technical advisors from different countries were working with CMAC. In its last progress report CMAC claims to have cleared 4.185.967 m² of land , 129.960 AP- mines , 2.505 AT- mines and 609.351 UXO’s since the start of its operations.
To advise and assist the CMAC management in : the planning , command , control and co-ordination of the CMAC EOD operations the monitoring of the implementation of the CMAC EOD policy & procedures the identification of needs in the field of human and material resources with regard to the CMAC EOD operations the completion and update of the CMAC Standing Operating Procedures the co-ordination with other mine & UXO Clearance Agencies and NGO’s To train and advise my CMAC counterparts : the Chief of the EOD Operations Branch the Senior EOD Operations Officer MY TASKS AS THEY WERE STATED IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF THE STA EOD
Recce of a US aircraft bomb 500 Lbs MK 82 in the vicinity of Kampong Speu
Left: Hang Vannarah , the CMAC Senior EOD Officer, who was one of my two Cambodian counterparts A careful and exact identification of the nose and tail fuze is of vital importance to determine the proper render safe procedure
The same US aircraft bomb 500 Lbs MK 82, but now completely excavated. Left: my friend Pao Thoeun , the EOD Field Officer
Discovery and excavation of a World War II 2000 Lbs US aircraft bomb (explosive charge: 578 Kg TNT ) at a brick factory, in the vicinity of Phnom Penh. After investigation it appeared that this huge bomb was probably dropped in 1943 by a US Airforce B-29 in a raid against a Japanese re-supply convoy on the River Mekong. I decided to jam the sensitive AN-M 102 tail-fuze with plaster of Paris before removal.
Preparation of the demolition of the aforesaid 2000 Lbs US aircraft bomb. To reduce the shockwave and the fragmentation I advised to destroy this heavy bomb at a depth of four metres.
Demolition of the 2000 Lbs US aircraft bomb. The palm-tree marked with an arrow has a height of approximately 15 metres
After the demolition villagers and young monks collect shrapnels for recycling
Preparation of a demolition of recoilless ammunition rounds Sisophon, Banteay Meancheay Province
Detection and clearance of a minefield in the Banteay Meancheay Province . The set-up of a task site and the demining methodologies & drills are to be performed according to high safety standards. That’s the reason why mine clearance is so labour-intensive, time-consuming and expensive .
A cool pop after the job ! This picture was taken in Kampong Cham , after a Recce of a heavily UXO contaminated area that was intended to resettle IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons)
In the morning of Saturday 5 July 1997, after months of increasing political and military tension, heavy clashes break out between the CPP* and FUNCINPEC* factions within the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces . Second Prime Minister Hun Sen (CPP) declares that “government troops have launched an offensive in order to stop the infiltration in the country of irregular troops, some of whom are Khmer Rouge forces ” . Several FUNCINPEC buildings, facilities, broadcasting stations, radio & TV masts as well as Pochentong International Airport are heavily shelled and damaged by mortars, rockets and artillery-fire. The French embassy is hit by a rocket. Dozens of casualties are reported. FUNCINPEC First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh is called a traitor of the nation and removed from power. The UNDP Security Office in Phnom Penh announces a curfew and we have to shelter for shelling, gun fire and looting troops for several days. The fightings expand to the northeastern part of the country. A stream of refugees moves in the direction of the Thai border. Several countries decide to evacuate their nationals from Cambodia. I took this picture on Sunday 6 July at 08:00 a.m. from the roof of the Canadian Contingent House. *CPP : Cambodian People’s Party * FUNCINPEC: Front Uni pour un Cambodge indépendant, neutre, pacifique et coopératif
In Cambodia residing expatriates, awaiting their security evacuation at Pochentong International Airport. Belgian citizens too were advised to leave the country. Thai, Australian and Filipino military airplanes were flown over for the evacuation.
As a result of the coup and the ensuing heavy fightings in July 1997 the Belgian Embassy in Bangkok (Thailand) tasked us to co-ordinate the evacuation of Belgian citizens at Pochentong International Airport Left: 1Sgt Maj Patrick Pilaeis, Field TA of Demining Unit # 1 in Sisophon
A young and an elder Khmer woman, like most Cambodians : always smiling !
A fisherman’s family at the Lake Tonlé Sap in the region of Siem Reap
Let’s hope that these children have better prospects than their parents and grandparents had at that age
It’s impossible to imagine Theravada Buddhism without lotus flowers
Monks marching in a colourful funeral procession
Psahr Thmei (New Market) is located in the old inner city of Phnom Penh, in a nice Art Deco building. The central domed hall has four wings filled with all kind of shops and booths. The dome is the fourth largest in the world. It is the best of Phnom Penh’s markets for browsing.
Khmer girl peddling French bread at a Mekong ferry. French influence is still noticeable in Cambodia in many ways. French bread is one example. Most Asians do not eat bread but the Cambodians do.
“ Sak cow” (beef) and “sak moûane” (chicken) at the butcher’s shop in the Psahr Thmei (New Market) in Phnom Penh
Tasty Khmer snacks: slimy snails and crispy grilled crickets The main course follows...
A rural woman and her daughter singing the praises of another Cambodian delicacy: “bping-bping aêng” (grilled spider). During the Khmer Rouge regime - when thousands of Cambodians starved to death - grilled insects and spiders were in fact a source of protein. I’ve tried one out once, when I was invited by a chief of village in the countryside (unfortunately I couldn’t escape...): its taste made me think of crab…or something like that... Enjoy your meal !
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh The official residence of H.M. King Norodom Sihanouk
Tonlé Sap (Great Lake) in central Cambodia swells during the rainy season from 3000 km² to over 7500 km², while its maximum depth increases from 2,2 m to more than 10 m. The lake is extremely rich in fish. A Vietnamese floating village on Lake Tonlé Sap Many expatriated Vietnamese families fish here for their living.
Housing in Cambodia Poor,…very poor,…and even poorer!
Angkor’s 100 or so temples were built between 700 and 1100 years ago, when the Khmer Empire was at the height of its civilisation.
Angkor was the administrative and religious centre of the Khmer Empire. Under the reign of King Indravarman I (877 - 889 A.D.) a 650-hectare baray (reservoir) was built, which marked the first stage of an ingenious and massive irrigation system and an advanced infrastructure. After Angkor had been left to the jungle for many centuries, it was only rediscovered in the 1860s by the French explorer Henri Mouhot
The Banteay Srei Temple (the Women’s Citadel) was built in the late 10th century and is a Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva . It is regarded as the jewel in the crown of classical Khmer art. The well preserved bas reliefs are among the most accomplished and most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
A Buddhist nun, offering flowers and burning incense in the Bayon Temple