The silently devastating landmines of Cambodia
Clearing them is an incredibly slow, deliberate process
Keith Lane has traveled all over the world — visiting uranium mines in New Mexico, the front lines of the war on ISIS, and the crumbled streets of Haiti — photographing the long-term effects of conflict on people, culture, and the environment.
A landmine is detonated from a safe distance in Cambodia. | (Keith Lane)
Traveling to Cambodia in 2009, Lane hooked up with a small NGO called Cambodia Self Help Demining that goes into remote villages clearing landmines left over from the Vietnam War and the Vietnam-Cambodian War. Though these wars have been over for decades, for some villagers, the violence of those conflicts lives on in these often still-active explosive devices buried just below the earth's surface. By some estimates, there are four to six million unexploded landmines in Cambodia.
"Landmines are an environmental issue, a societal issue, and a cultural issue," Lane said in an interview, "because people are tied directly to the land."
A German S-mine, also known as a "Bouncing Betty," is found on a bike path. The landmine had been in the ground since the 1970s. | (Keith Lane)
A member of the CSHD team walks away from an area she was clearing. | (Keith Lane)
Clearing the mines is incredibly slow, meticulous work. The workers, dressed head-to-toe in protective gear, go square-meter by square-meter, clearing high-traffic areas like bike paths, and cordoning off the more untouched parts of the jungle with rope and warning signs, pleading with locals to stay away.
It's these more forgotten areas of conflict that Lane is particularly drawn to. "I'm interested in what happens when the wars stop and we move away from it," Lane said. "I just want to take every opportunity to shed light on something that's not getting the attention it deserves."
The CSHD team heads into a minefield. | (Keith Lane)
CSHD team members head back into camp after going to town for supplies. | (Keith Lane)
Brush is gathered to help dampen a controlled explosion. | (Keith Lane)
Locals near the minefield set up a small fire and cook their evening meal. | (Keith Lane)