Scottish Woman Clearing Cambodian Landmines

Charity worker Victoria Telford uses metal detectors to find and clear bombs in the country where 25,000 people have suffered amputations due to explosions.

A Scot is helping clear landmines in Cambodia, where 25,000 people have suffered amputations after being injured in explosions.

Victoria Telford works for the Halo Trust, a Dumfries charity who work in some of the world’s most troubled regions.

She travels to areas where deminers with metal detectors find and dig up the deadly bombs which have claimed 64,000 casualties since 1979.

Victoria, 30, from Edinburgh, said: “I’d been living in Cambodia, which is the most wonderful country, and jumped at the chance to work for Halo.

“It’s a real privilege to help reduce the terrible legacy of landmines.

“By removing them, you reduce risk but also help people claim back land to turn into farms, or for building schools and health centres.”

The Khmer Rouge, under leader Pol Pot, took power in Cambodia in 1975 and the horrific regime led to the deaths of about two million people.

A landmine victim in Cambodia who lost his leg while fighting for the national army (Image: LightRocket)

The majority of landmines were laid across Cambodia’s border with Thailand, known as the K5 Belt, to keep out exiled Khmer Rouge guerrillas in the 80s.

Victoria, who previously worked for the charity Mercy Corps at their Edinburgh HQ, said: “The K5 is tough land, very densely mined. It’s full of jungle, which makes it slow, painstaking work.

“It’s inherently dangerous but we have really robust safety procedures.”

A £46million UK aid package was recently announced to support demining in Cambodia, Angola, Somalia, Burma, South Sudan, Lebanon and Vietnam.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Without people like Victoria, this incredible work would not be possible and we should be proud of their enormous contribution.”

The Halo Trust aim to clear the world’s minefields by 2025.

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