UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most landmined country in the world. Unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas have attributed to over 60,000 deaths and thousands of injuries since 1970. The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields. Most adults and children that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs.
According to World Vision, 1 in 236 Cambodians is disabled, making Cambodia the most disabled country on earth. Each month there are between 300 and 700 amputations due to land-mine injuries; approximately 4 million land-mines are still active.
[Yes, that is a real t-shirt that I have seen for sale in the Russian Market in Phnom Penh. Let me know and "For you, I'll make it cheap cheap."]
Not all victims and amputees resort to begging for survival, but many often do. If you have been to the Russian Market or to Wat Phnom, you have probably seen an amputee [like the man below] selling books, DVDs, and paintings. If you have ever received a hand-painted watercolor greeting card from me, know that it was painted by an amputee, and probably sold to me by his cute little son or grandson.
There's also this group of amputees, who form a band of traditional Cambodian instruments to grace the pathways to the Ta Prohm Temple at Angkor Wat. [Playing for spare change, of course.]
It's one sad reality of a post-war-torn country that is only gradually seeing positive change.