National Geographic : 2012 Jan
• assistance. Every schoolchild is taught about the dangers of explosives. Contests have even been held for the best hip-hop songs about land mine awareness. "I've been rude since I was young," a male performer boasts in one winning song. "I can only make things from bombs." "No need to exaggerate and show o to me," the female chorus replies. "I don't care and don't want to hear about this." Major mine elds have been mapped and are being systematically demined. ere's even a Cambodia Landmine Museum, created by Aki Ra. Located outside Siem Reap, a provincial capital, it displays the mines and ordnance that he deactivated. With support from Americans Bill and Jill Morse, who founded the Landmine Relief Fund, Aki Ra also cares for and educates 35 children at an orphanage. Worldwide, millions of land mines are bur- ied in nearly 80 countries and regions---from Angola to Afghanistan, Vietnam to Zimbabwe. at's one of every three nations. Many of them are following Cambodia's example. In 2002 al- most 12,000 people worldwide were reported killed or maimed by land mines or other explo- sives. Since then, annual casualties have fallen to fewer than 4,200. is dramatic improvement is a direct result of the Mine Ban Treaty signed in Ottawa, Canada, in 1997, an international agreement banning the use, production, or transfer of land mines and calling for manda- tory destruction of stockpiles. Today 157 coun- tries have become party to the treaty, including Afghanistan, Liberia, Nicaragua, and Rwanda; but 39 countries have refused to join, including China, Russia, North Korea, and the U.S. e American position is complicated. e United States has not used antipersonnel land mines since 1991, not exported them since 1992, and not produced them since 1997. But the nation has a stockpile of some 10 million land mines, and prior to the '90s, it exported 4.4 million antipersonnel land mines, an unknown number of which are still in the ground. Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, described the government's o cial position in 2009: "We would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention." Nonetheless, under pressure from the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Obama Administration has been conducting a compre- hensive review of its land mine policy. Despite its refusal to join the treaty, the U.S. has done more to counteract mines than any other country, spending $1.9 billion during the past 18 years through the Humanitarian Mine Action Program---roughly a quarter of the total spent on demining and other remediation activi- ties around the world. ere's been a special em- phasis on helping Cambodia, which has received more than $80 million since 1993. As in many countries, the vast majority of de- mining in Cambodia is done by hand. Demining Selected as Miss Landmine Cambodia 2009, Dos Sopheap tries on her prize, a titanium leg, with pageant organizer Morten Traavik. Although she later found the leg too uncomfortable to wear, her fame brought her sponsor- ship for college.