George Nickels George Nickels

George Nickels is a freelance photojournalist, and the focus of his work covers social conflict and humanitarian issues across Asia. His in-depth photography and editorial provide an often un-reported aspect of current affairs and news. Based in Cambodia, George is available for international reportage, editorial, travel assignments and corporate projects, and has a wealth of experience to assist the promotion of brands, and business.

Currently based in Cambodia. In 2014 and 2015, a selection of his work was awarded NurPhoto Pictures of The Year. In 2016, Getty Images also featured his photography in their Best of News April. Born in Oxfordshire, England in 1982, he is a self-taught photographer, with work published in leading newspapers, magazines and media outlets worldwide.

George is motivated to record and communicate the personal testimonies and experiences of the people he meets. His in-depth photography and editorial provide an often un-reported aspect of current affairs and news. He explores the reasons for past and present conflicts, and exposes human rights issues.George has worked ona number of personal projects, such as documenting the political situation inAsia, with particular focus on the Cambodian national elections in 2013 and the2014 coup d'é·tat in Thailand. For publications such as SouthEast Asia Globe, and Vice Magazine, his photography provided an insight into the current contrasts between the political parties, and the reality of the voters and their rights.

The ever-present threat of landmines in South East Asia is also a primary focus for George. For the past five years, he has built up a large body of work documenting the continuing effects of landmine and UXO’s, and the work of demining organisations such as The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and Apopo. He works on a one to one basis with Khmer deminers, highlights their training and techniques used in the field. An integral part to the story is the vast number of people who have been physically and mentally injured; his photographs often reveal their history, struggles and ultimately their resilience to survive. His research has lead to photo essays published in Vice, The Huffington Post, Discovery News,The Atlantic, Life Force Magazine, Quest L'édition du soir, Defence World, Geographical Magazine, El Mundo and DFID (United Kingdom Department for InternationalDevelopment).

In 2014, his work ‘Perfect Soldiers’ was also selected for a collaborative exhibition entitled ‘Documenting Cambodia’ presented by NGOInsider, and his project covering MDR’s (mine detection rats), ‘Training for theK5 belt’ was selected for the Impact Project and was screened at The Foreign Correspondents Club at the Angkor Photo Festival in 2015, and most recently in October 2016 he was part of a touring exhibition with Tim Page entitled ''Resilience'' commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords in Cambodia.

Since 2014, George has also been working on a long-term project covering migration, human trafficking and the modern day slave trade. On assignment for The Guardian, The European Union, The European Journalism Centre and Europe Aid, he has been documenting the effects that modern day slavery has on people, their lives and environment. His photographs have been published worldwide, and were also featured on the front page of the East West Centre and the Stanford University WSD Handa Centre’s 2015 report on evaluating the presence of human trafficking in SouthEast Asia, ASEAN.

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Giant Rats Prepare to Demine Cambodia...
Sim Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
26 Apr 2015

Cambodia is still one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world.

A recent Baseline Survey of 124 districts revealed that 1,914,818 m2 of land surface is contaminated by landmines and ERW. In addition, at least 26 million explosive submunitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in Eastern and North-Eastern areas bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants.

Belgian NGO Apopo, who have been training African giant poached rats in Tanzania, Angolo and Mozambique to detect explosives and tuberculosis, they recently invited me to document their training process as 3 mine detection rat (MDR) handlers drafted from Africa, taught a CMAC demining platoon how to locate landmines and UXO using African giant poached rats. After 6 months training the platoon will be fully operational and demining with the MDR's on one of the most densely mined swathes of land on earth. Cambodia is still one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world. Over 64,000 landmine and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) casualties have been recorded in Cambodia since 1979. With over 25,000 amputees Cambodia has the highest ratio of mine amputees per capita in the world. A recent Baseline Survey of 124 districts revealed that 1,914,818 m2 of land surface is contaminated by landmines and ERW. In addition, at least 26 million explosive submunitions were dropped on Cambodia during the Vietnam War, mostly in Eastern and North-Eastern areas bordering the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. The bombing is estimated to have left between 1.9 million and 5.8 million cluster munitions remnants.   Belgian NGO Apopo, who have been training African giant poached rats in Tanzania, Angolo and Mozambique to detect explosives and tuberculosis, invited me to document their training process as 3 mine detection rat (MDR) handlers drafted from Africa, taught a CMAC demining platoon how to locate landmines and UXO using African giant poached rats. After 6 months training the platoon will be fully operational and demining with the MDR's on one of the most densely mined swathes of land on earth.

The demining project between CMAC and Apopo will be targeting 6 Northwestern districts close to the infamous “K5 belt”.

The K5 is one of the densest concentrations of mines on the planet and causes a significant proportion of Cambodia’s mine casualties. The K5 runs along the entire 750km length of the Cambodia-Thai border. In partnership with CMAC, land is released (through demining and survey) for casualty reduction, agriculture, resettlement and other infrastructure development (roads, wells, ponds and schools).

The release of land allows poor, rural people access to land which was previously contaminated so that they can now safely grow their rice and other crops to feed their families. In addition Mine Risk Education is delivered in communities aimed at reducing the risk of injury and death from mines and other ERW.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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My Son's Birth, Through my Lens
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
By George Nickels
27 Dec 2014

If you’re a man in Cambodia, being present at the birth of your child is widely frowned upon. As both the prospective father and a camera-wielding photo-journalist, attending and documenting the birth of my son was a challenge, to say the least.

At 8pm on 26 December 2014, my partner of nearly nine years alerted me that her water had broken. She started to have her first contractions, but we were advised to stay home, get some food and rest, and wait it out until the morning.

By 7am and after a sleepless night, the intensity of Madeline’s contractions reached a peak every ten minutes; it was time to leave. Descending seven flights of stairs from our apartment in Phnom Penh, we hailed a remork (tuk tuk) to take us across the city on a journey that would change our lives forever. As is common in the capital city, the driver said he knew where to go, (which meant no, I don’t, please tell me), so with the limited Khmer that I knew, and ten minutes trying to explain where the clinic was, we came to an agreement and departed.

For twenty minutes, in a rickety wooden carriage towed by a 125cc motorcycle, on substandard roads, we careered through early morning city traffic on with Madeline panting heavily all the way to the clinic. On arrival, Doctors and midwives monitored the baby’s heartbeat, and then lead us to the room that we had pre booked, ready for Madeline to start the first stages of labour.

For the next four hours, the intensity in the room increased tenfold; I watched as the midwives coached Madeline with every technique in the book to ease her pain and mental state. Encouraging deep breathing and keeping her calm was part of my support role .When the staff decided she was ready, my partner told me to grab my camera. She was screaming as they wheeled her upstairs to the delivery room, and I realized I was about to begin documenting the birth of my son.

From a photographer’s point of view, taking photographs of my woman giving birth was not easy. She was in a lot of discomfort and pain, so trying document this, whilst retaining her dignity, was both mentally and physically draining.

There were other factors I had to take into consideration. Room to move was at a premium; I was in a small delivery room with six medical staff and a pregnant woman, so gaining the trust of the midwives and doctors was essential. Lighting conditions were very harsh, and Madeline was constantly moving from one chair to another, from standing to sitting, and from crouching and crawling positions.

The majority of the time I was supporting my partner and wishing for a safe and problem free delivery, and she says she can only recall one moment of me taking photographs from the entire labour. Madeline was having very heavy contractions whilst kneeling on the floor on her hands and knees. My natural instinct as a photographer kicked in, and as I lay on my back in front of her, pointing the camera at her pain stricken face, I composed the frame and took the photograph. This was the only point in the delivery when my partner told me to stop taking photos and to hold her hands!

The images shown were taken in the last three hours of a fairly short seven-hour natural labour, and at 1.50 p.m. on the 27th of December, we were blessed with our first son, Frank Nickels.

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Floating Clinics Fight Poor Sanitatio...
Tonle Sap
By George Nickels
15 Jan 2014

The Tonle Sap Lake, situated in the heart of Cambodia, is South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake. The 1.5 million people living on the lake are an ethnically diverse population of Khmers, Cham, and Vietnamese who experience a life isolated from both the modern world and the progress that is happening in much of Cambodia. Many communities are hours or even more than a full day away from any medical care or expertise.

During Cambodia’s post UN civil war in 1994, each political party had their own army, and the country was a dangerous place to travel through. Most roads and waterways throughout the country were being closely observed by starving peasants with guns.

At that time, Mr. Jon F. Morgan, an American doctor and the founding member of the Angkor Hospital for Children, was traveling across the Tonle Sap from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

"It was then that I had my first impression of the floating villages found on the lake,” he said. “Children were defecating into the lake’s water while others swam and some washed the family dishes. Swollen bellies either from malnutrition or worms were evident everywhere. I turned towards my wife and said, 'This is a nightmare.’”

As a result of these discoveries, Mr Morgan decided to found The Lake Clinic in 2007, which provides primary healthcare to people who would otherwise have little or no access to medical assistance. The Lake Clinic consists of three floating buildings that are totally self sufficient running on Solar energy, and for 3 days a week doctors, dentists and staff from Siem Reap bring much needed care to the people who spend the majority of their lives afloat on the Tonle Sap.

Life in these remote villages can be precarious, and for many people this is the only access to medical provision that they have. Last year the Lake Clinic reached over 14,000 people living in the surrounding villages, and through its care program and the team’s ability to identify potentially disabling conditions early on, treatment could be provided before irreparable damage was done to their patients.

Poverty and illness are clearly evident in the communities of the Tonle Sap, and residents survive predominantly on what the lake has to offer. A lack of fresh drinking water and basic sanitation are major factors of disease within these floating communities, and over 10,000 children die each year in Cambodia as a result.

Without any water management systems in place, the growing populations on the lake still do not have toilets, and defecate through holes cut out of their homes directly into the lake in which they wash themselves, their food and throw all other waste into. Skin diseases are also very common in built up areas due to leaking gasoline from the engines of fishermen’s boats. This increasing build up of ever-greater quantities of waste from these communities means the environment is ultimately paying the price.

Traditional remedies and beliefs are still prevalent within the isolated communities living on the lake. Depending on the ailment, Cambodians believe that placing burning incense or cigarettes onto the bare skin of the chest and stomach will cure virtually all related illnesses to the head and body. When babies are born and show their first signs of sickness, (usually stomach pains and diarrhea) a mixture of rice wine, clay and the bark of a tree believed to cure various ailments is plastered to the head of the suffering infant.

Further upstream along the Mekong river, a more imposing threat lies; more than a hundred hydropower dams have been built or are in the process of planning further up the Mekong river that feeds the lake, disturbing the ecosystem and depleting fish numbers.

Every year, the lake produces around 300,000 tons of fish, making it one of the world’s most productive freshwater ecosystems. Hydropower dams being built on the Mekong River are going to be extremely harmful to the communities that rely on fish as a way of supporting their families. The Cambodian Fisheries Administration reports that due to mainstream dam development on the Mekong, the country may lose up to 42 percent of its freshwater fish by 2030.

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Perfect Soldiers, Cambodia’s Hidden E...
Siem Reap Province
By George Nickels
01 Sep 2014

Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia, although some estimates run as high as 10 million. The magnitude of land mines littered across provinces throughout Cambodia has become a severe problem for the country’s residents. This is the legacy of three decades of savage war that raged in Cambodia. All sides used land mines, manufactured in China, Russia, Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, purportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.” Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) systematically de-mine the country's provinces striving to eradicate the ever present threat of UXO's, land mines and cluster munitions but they are up against a huge challenge.

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Thousands of Cambodian Workers Flee T...
By George Nickels
20 Jun 2014

About 200,000 migrant workers from Cambodia have fled Thailand over the last week, amid rumors of violent crackdown on illegal workers in the country. Thailand’s military junta said it would tighten restrictions on migrant employment to prevent illegal workers, forced labor and human trafficking. Cambodian migrant workers are a key component of the work force in Thai industries including construction, fishing and agriculture.

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CNRP political campaign Siem Reap Cam...
Siem Reap Cambodia
By George Nickels
24 Jul 2013

In the final days leading up to the Cambodian national elections, opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha campaign through the streets of Siem Reap and are greeted by tens of thousands of loyal CNRP (Cambodian national rescue party) supporters. Siem Reap, Cambodia. George Nickels.

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Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen's bo...
Siem Reap Cambodia
By George Nickels
05 Jul 2013

With the Cambodian election campaigns now in full swing ruling party CPP leader prime minister Hun Sen makes a highly guarded visit to Siem Reap to attend various meetings. Hun Sen is the second longest serving leader in Southeast Asia and is one of the longest serving prime ministers in the world, having been in power through various coalitions since 1985. In 1987, Amnesty International accused Hun Sen's government of torture of thousands of political prisoners using "electric shocks, hot irons and near-suffocation with plastic bags. Hun Sen's government has been responsible for the sale of vast amounts of land to foreign investors resulting in the forced eviction of thousands upon thousands of residents from their homes throughout the country.

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Spider Hunters in Cambodia
Trov Pheang Ctas
By George Nickels
09 Jun 2012

On The 9th August 2012 I was invited to the remote jungle village, known as Trov Pheang Ctas, located deep within the Svay Ler district in Cambodia. It was somewhere I had never been or heard of, and I assumed there might be both unexploded landmines, and illegal logging activities, as is the case in much of the rural countryside.
My time there would be spent documenting the hunt of one of Cambodia’s finest delicacies, Haplopelma albostriatum.
Haplopelma albostriatum, are a species of tarantula called "a-ping" in Khmer, and also known as the Thai zebra tarantula, when fully grown can reach the size of a human palm.
The spiders are caught using a very primitive simple yet effective technique, where the hunter will tease the creature from its den by the ways of using a stick to tickle its web and entice the spider to surface. The spider then makes its retreat deep into its hole, but no escaping as that’s when the improvised shovels come into play. Although venomous the tarantulas are not deadly and there bite has been described as something close to a very bad bee sting.
Once visable the arachnid is quickly plucked from its hole and grabbed by its back just in front of its abdomen using 2 fingers with care taken to avoid a nasty bite from there rather large fangs.
When caught the spiders are delicately put into small plastic bottles and kept there until they and ready to eat. The process used to prepare the catch for eating comprised of filling a bowl with water and jointly drowning and washing the spider in one easy step. The method used at this particular village was very cheap and easy, the spiders are tossed in salt and deep fried.
It is not clear how this practice started, but some have suggested that the population might have started eating spiders out of desperation during the years of Khmer Rouge rule, when food was in short supply.

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Perfect Soldiers of Cambodia
Battambang Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2013

A major problem that Cambodia faces is the magnitude of landmines littered across provinces throughout the country. This is the legacy of three decades of savage war that raged in Cambodia. All sides used landmines, manufactured in China, Russia, Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, reportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.” The landmines in Cambodia were placed by 3 different factions the Khmer Rouge, the Heng Samrin and Hun Sen regimes) that clashed throughout the Civil War in Cambodia in the 1970s. They were layed throughout every province of the country and are for many people who live in rural areas still a daily threat. A common problem that the Khmer people faced with the anti-personnel mines is that in many cases even the people who planted the mines could not remember where they had placed them. The CMAC [Cambodian Mine Action Centre] work day and night ridding Cambodia of the millions of landmines and unexploded ordnance that still litter the country, clearing agricultural land and enabling the people who live in the effected areas to once again work the land and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.
The Cambodian government is supplying 3% of the funds needed to run CMAC's demining operations throughout the country. Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia although some estimates run as high as 10 million. In the 1st 3 months of 2013 CMAC reported that there have been 24 injuries, 14 amputees and 4 fatalities due to this still ever present threat.

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Sickness born out of poverty
kampong cchnang Cambodia
By George Nickels
26 Jan 2013

Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is the sickness of the developing world - sickness born out of poverty. Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease which attacks the skin, the peripheral nerves, the mucous air passages and the eyes. The transmission of leprosy is similar to that of tuberculosis. To date, science has not been able to produce a vaccine against leprosy.

The physical handicap caused by the disease stigmatises its victims: it renders the sufferers social outcasts, excluded from their familial and social environment.

Today there are more than a million cases of leprosy identified worldwide, excluding the large number of ex-patients needing specialised mid-term medical and surgical treatment or social assistance because of the handicap caused by the disease.

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THE CAMBODIA TRUST PROSTHETICS AND OR...
Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia
By George Nickels
05 Nov 2012

A severe problem that Cambodia faces is the magnitude of landmines littered over virtually every provence throughout the country. more than 40% of the villages in Cambodia have a mine problem.
This is the legacy of three decades of savage war leaving 40,000+ amputees through out the country. Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia although some estimates run as high as ten million. Last year The Cambodia Trust clinics in Cambodia fitted over 600 limbs ensuring that individuals are empowered to impact their communities and provide for their families. Across the developing world, there are millions of people with disabilities who need physical rehabilitation services to enable them to go to school, find work and participate in society. However in many low income countries there is a severe shortage of local staff with the skills and experience to provide the rehabilitation services needed by persons with disabilities.
In the warfare that raged in Cambodia from 1970 until 1998, all sides used land mines.
Most were manufactured in China, Russia, or Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, purportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.”

Major minefields have been mapped and are being systematically demined. Although estimates show that it may take between 10 and 20 years to eradicate the threat and with serious amounts of money involved to do so.

Cambodia reported 96 landmine casualties in the first five months of 2012, according to a report of the Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System, and they quoted sadly young children account for about half of all landmine victims.

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EVICTION AND DESTRUCTION, FORCED EVIC...
Slokram, Cambodia
By George Nickels
28 Aug 2012

A lively and cultural community in Siem Reap has come to an abrupt and sad end. Nearly 400 Cambodian and Vietnamese families have been evicted from their homes beside the Siem Reap river in the Slokram commune of the city. The decision has been made by officials - with the reasons stated as needing to develop, widen the river and make new communal gardens.

The Vietnamese and Cambodians I spoke to told me how after notification by letter to take down their fragile wooden shacks on stilts, and find a new home elsewhere.

A considerable police force arrived in the early hours, and demanded that all families and businesses had one day to leave, or their homes would be destroyed.

Because some of these river residents have been living and working in the area for over 15 years, I was told that the government have offered the Cambodian residents a small piece of land at Sala Kamroeuk commune, 6 kilometers outside the city on a flood plain. They will also receive a small payment of a few hundred dollars.
I have recently spoken to some of the evicted families and still they have received no compensation, so even if they did decide to move to proposed flood prone area they would not have enough money to build simple shelters.

However, the Vietnamese have been given a small amount of compensation, but have no land rights, up to 10 families with countless children are all now homeless.

That morning, an emergency meeting was called so that the residents could protest to the district governor about the situation; I attended on the invite of a Vietnamese family, and on our return to the commune, some families found that their properties had been taken down in their absence.

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REMNANTS OF WAR, LANDMINE SURVIVORS I...
KANDAL CAMBODIA
By George Nickels
20 Jul 2012

REMNANTS OF WAR
A severe problem that Cambodia faces is the magnitude of landmines littered over virtually every provence throughout the country. more than 40% of the villages in Cambodia have a mine problem.
This is the legacy of three decades of savage war leaving 40,000+ amputees through out the country. Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia although some estimates run as high as ten million.
In the warfare that raged in Cambodia from 1970 until 1998, all sides used land mines.
Most were manufactured in China, Russia, or Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, purportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.”

Major minefields have been mapped and are being systematically demined. Although estimates show that it may take between 10 and 20 years to eradicate the threat and with serious amounts of money involved to do so.

Cambodia reported 96 landmine casualties in the first five months of 2012, according to a report of the Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System, and they quoted sadly young children account for about half of all landmine victims

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

An elderly woman is left as the parental guardian to raise 3 children… her sons and daughters left to try and find work in Thailand 3 years ago. She has had no contact with them since.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mrs Touch, wife of Mr. Roum Touch. “I knew that there were risks involved in my husband trying to find work in Thailand, but we had a new born baby and were struggling to survive on the money that he earned as a construction worker in Cambodia. If I knew now that he was going to be kidnapped and made to work as a slave on a Thai vessel, I would have begged him to stay. I worried about his safety every day but i never thought that this would happen to our family.” Moung Tboung Village, Moung commune, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mr. Roum Touch. After one month at sea, we arrived in a Malaysian port, I saw my chance and I escaped. After hiding in the jungle for two days I was tired and hungry and I decided to try my luck at finding work, hoping to earn enough money to sustain myself and get home to Cambodia. Luckily I secured a job packing fish in a port further down the coast from were I had escaped my captors. After two months, I felt I’d earned enough money to pay my way back on to a boat back to Thailand; this was the first of many obstacles on my journey back to my homeland. After seven days and seven nights at sea, we eventually arrived at the Thai port where I left the ship and found a taxi to take me to the closest border with Cambodia. Ten minutes into the drive I started to get very paranoid that I was being followed by two motorbikes; my instincts were correct and shortly after the taxi was pulled over by two men and I was told that they had arranged another taxi for me. I was taken to a house, given clean clothes, food and locked in a room for two days. When my captors finally came back I was given two choices: go back to the fishing boat or go to prison. I chose the fishing boat and spent another month onboard working virtually non stop, along with 15 other Khmer men that were under the control of two armed thai captains. As soon as the opportunity came I escaped for a second time and eventually made it back home to my wife and child. I feel lucky to be alive.” Moung Tboung Village, Moung commune, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Survivors of human trafficking and slavery on Thai fishing vessels take part in a self-help group as part of the safer migration programme run by the Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC). Char Chouk Village, Varin District, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Hair shampoo and soap is distributed to villagers attending a self-help group as part of the safer migration programme run by the Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC). The majority of the participants that attend the monthly meetings are elderly or pregnant women due to the vast amount of men migrating to Thailand in hope of finding a higher wage in the construction trade or farming.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
18 Feb 2017

A family explains to me that even though the risks involved in trying to find employment and a higher wage in Thailand are high, they may have no choice than trying their prospects at going across the border. Char Chouk Village, Varin District, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mr. Bot Loum, 40, A former rice farmer that spent six years onboard a Thai fishing vessel. “I was approached by a man in my village who said that he had would be able to secure work for me in Thailand. The money that I could possibly earn was a lot better than I was making in Cambodia so I decided to leave illegally to Thailand and eventually worked as a fisherman in Indonesian waters.
The opportunity arose for me to work on a boat that supplied the other fishing vessels deep out to sea with oil and fuel, and that’s what I did, but after one month the boat was seized by the Indonesian police and I was arrested for selling fuel illegally in Indonesian waters. I was made to work in an Indonesian port for one month before being taken to court and being sentenced to 15 months in prison. I was given medicine by the guards, at first I refused to take it but after being severely beaten on a regular basis I gave in and done as the guards asked. I was manacled hand and foot for the entire duration of my imprisonment and now my head feels confused and I have lost my memory due to the drugs that I was forced to take.
Near the end of my sentence I was visited by the Thai captain who I worked for previously, he helped me contact my embassy and ultimately secured my release. I am now unemployed and my family provide for me. Due to the sickness in my mind I have to take medication everyday to try and help me. I do not know what the future holds.” Poung Rou Village, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

A baby suffering from malaria receives an intravenous drip. Her father left her and her sister with their mother one year ago in search of work in Thailand. They have had no contact with him since. Poung Rou Village, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand need not only a passport, but a work permit a visa, an overseas Cambodian worker card and an employment contract. Char Chouk Village, Varin District, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Villagers attending a self-help group as part of the safer migration programme run by the Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC). The majority of the participants that attend the monthly meetings are elderly or pregnant women due to the vast amount of men migrating to Thailand in hope of finding a higher wage in the construction trade or farming.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Survivors of slavery onboard a Thai fishing vessel attend a self-help group as part of the safer migration programme run by the Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC). Char Chouk Village, Varin District, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

A formerly enslaved fisherman. Char Chouk Village, Varin District, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mr. Seuy Sann, 40. A Cambodian construction worker who was enslaved on a Thai fishing vessel. I was only sleeping for one hour a day. When we got tired, they gave us a powder to dissolve in water and drink. I threw it away the first time they gave it to me and the second time, but when they saw I hadn’t taken it the third time, they beat me. I knew if I didn’t take the powder, they’d kill me. I don’t know what it was, but when I took it, my energy came back and I didn’t need to eat any rice.” The food and the drugs — probably amphetamines — weren’t enough to sustain all those on board. One day, the crew lost patience with a Laotian man who was too ill to work. “They threw him overboard as an example to the rest of us. I was there for a month and I thought I’d die there. They said all the Cambodians on the boat would die.”

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

In a remote area of northern Cambodia a villager approaches our vehicle, earlier that day despite the risks involved, two cars full of 15 men and women left their homes to try their prospects of finding a higher rate of pay in Thailand.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mr. Youn Yum, 29, a Cambodian rice farmer who was trafficked and enslaved on a Thai fishing vessel. Moung commune, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Villagers scramble to get water given out by Italian NGO Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC). This year has been the worst draught that Cambodia has faced in 55 years with temperatures reaching as high as 44°C, at the time that I captured this image all 10 wells in the surrounding area were dry and the villagers were surviving purely on stored rain water.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

A group of young men escape the intense Cambodian heat. This year has been the worst draught that many Khmers can remember, with temperatures reaching as high as 42°C. With very little rain if any for 7 months people are finding it extremely hard to grow crops and provide for their families. At the time that I captured this image all 10 wells in the surrounding area were dry and the villagers were surviving purely on stored rain water.

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George Nickels Trafficked into Slaver...
Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Feb 2017

Mr. Youn Yum. “When I left Cambodia to try and find work in Thailand I was unaware of the risks involved and how it would change my life forever. One of my friends in the village told me that he and a few others were planning to try and find work in Thailand and that his friend had arranged for somebody to meet us at the border in a few days time. I did not hesitate at the offer and after a few days passed we set off in search of the opportunities that are just over the border. After around three hours of driving we arrived at what we all thought was the border to Thailand and were met by a Khmer man, who told us that he had work for us on a cassava farm, and that we would be earning 4500 THB, around $130 per month each, with a room and food included. Along with six other Khmers, I worked on that farm for one month, seven days a week from morning until night. One day whilst working, we were approached by a Thai man who offered us a higher rate of pay in Thailand as carpenters on a construction site for a very enticing wage of 7000 THB, $200 per month. We spoke between ourselves and were happy with the offer of more money and a change in the style of job, but very confused as we thought that we were already in Thailand, we were in fact actually still in Cambodia working close to the border. We tried to find the farmer who had employed us but he was nowhere to be seen and had fled without paying us any money, so we were left with no choice but to accept the Thai brokers deal and make our way illegally over the border. We were told that there would be a charge for transportation to the construction site but that it could be deducted from our first months’ wage if we liked. We all agreed, and made our way excited by the offer into Thailand. After a very uncomfortable and long drive in the back of an old truck along with 10 other men we arrived at our destination. To my surprise we were not at a construction site, but a very busy sea port. We were told that unfortunately the site was going to be closed for three months and our broker had gone out of his way and had arranged work for us on a fishing boat. As most of us were now indebted to him we were left with no option but to go out to sea. It was only after sailing for two weeks into the middle of the ocean that the six other Cambodians and myself were told that we had been sold to the Thai’s. I complained to the captain and was severely beaten making it virtually impossible to work, eat or sleep. I tried to keep up with the others but could not and was beaten again and again, I thought that they were going to kill me. We sailed deeper into the ocean for another two weeks until I was told that we were now in Indonesian waters. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks to months my health got worse as did the constant beatings that I received for not being able to keep up with the other men. After what seemed like a lifetime, (actually around nine months at sea) we arrived at an Indonesian fishing port. We were marched into a room on the ship by our captors all carrying guns, and told that we would be going out to sea again tomorrow on another boat. I knew then that if I did not try and make my escape soon that the chances of me surviving another journey would be slim. I waited until it was dark and the others were asleep, and made my escape. I crept out of the room and of the boat; I swam to land and hid in the nearby forest until the following morning. I was scared of whom to trust and did not speak any Indonesian or Thai, tired, sick and hungry yet again I had no choice but to risk leaving the forest in hope of finding a way back to my homeland. After sitting in the undergrowth of the forest close to a small dirt track for a long time whilst I conjured up the courage, I saw a young woman and child walking down the track towards me and I made my move. The woman was frightened at first but helped me, giving me food, water and contacting the Indonesian embassy. She told me that I had to get to the nearest police station and that the police would help me. The Indonesian police were very kind men and let me stay within the police station for two weeks until the embassy arranged a emergency visa for me and sent me back to Phnom Penh. My ordeal at sea is over but my health gets worse week by week, I have no strength and cannot find any work in my country, I have a newborn baby a wife and no prospects for the future. Maybe I will try and find work again in Thailand.” Moung commune, Srey Snom District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 18
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Apopo team manager Lordes discusses the problem of anti tank and anti personnel mines that still kill and maim Cambodia's people on a monthly basis. Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 17
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Lawrence Kombani forty year old father of three has been training African giant poached rats or MDR's (Mine detection rats) to locate land mines and UXO for the past fifteen years. He has left his family in Tanzania after being transferred on a three month program to Cambodia to teach the CMAC DU4 team handling techniques and prepare them for live munitions. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 16
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A fragmentation pit in the CMAC camp on a remote mine field in northeastern Cambodia. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 14
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A land owner signs paperwork supplied by CMAC allowing him to safely reclaim his estate after they successfully cleared the area of all forms of explosives and remnants of war. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 15
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

A land owner walks on his land for the first time since the K5 plan began on the 19th July 1984. In practice the K5 fence / belt consisted of a roughly 700 kilometre long, 500 metre wide stretch of land along the border with Thailand, where anti tank and antipersonnel mines were planted to a density of about 3,000 mines per kilometre of frontage. Moments before he signed paperwork supplied by CMAC allowing him to safely reclaim his estate after they successfully cleared the area of all forms of explosives and remnants of war. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 13
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

The Cambodia Mine/UXO Victim Information System reported at least 64,314 landmine and unexploded ordnance casualties from 1979 to the end of 2013. Of these, 19,684 people were killed and 44,630 injured. Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 12
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Apopo staff monitor a member of the CMAC demining platoon as he trains with a mine detection rat.(MDR). CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 10
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

One MDR can search up to 200 square meters in 20 minutes; this would take a technician with a metal detector 1-4 days depending on levels of scrap metal contamination. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 11
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

Marcous is a giant African poached mine detection rat. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 09
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
25 Apr 2015

So Malen, 24, has been working clearing land mines and (UXO) unexploded ordnance from Svey Rieng Province, Cambodia for the last five years. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 08
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

CMAC team members learn how to handle mine detection rats. The MDRs sniff out explosive chemicals like TNT in landmines and ignore the scrap metal that metal detectors pick up. This makes them extremely fast landmine detectors. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 06
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Victoria a African giant poached mine detection rat (MDR), also dubbed a (hero rat) is taken for a walk on her training lead. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 07
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Apopo team members discuss the dangers of locating and disarming Chinese made AP72 anti personnel land mines that contribute to the estimated four to six million unexploded UXO and mines that still litter the rural landscape throughout Cambodia. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 05
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Lawrence Kombani, forty year old father of three has been training African giant poached rats or MDR's (Mine detection rats) to locate land mines and UXO for the past fifteen years. He has left his family in Tanzania and moved to Cambodia to teach the CMAC DU4 team handling techniques and prepare them for live munitions. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 03
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. The social consequences of the landmines in Cambodia are extremely serious. A high percentage of the population has been killed by mines, which affects entire families. "ICRC statistics claim that only 25% of mine victims arrive at hospital within 6 hours of being injured with 15% having to travel for more than 3 days before they reach a hospital. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 04
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

A CMAC team member collects his mine detection rat (MDR) from its cage before going to the minefield. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 02
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Mao Sophea 25 has been working as a deminer in Cambodia with the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) for the last 5 years, she will soon be a fully operation Mine Detection Rat (MDR) handler and relocated to one of Cambodia's most heavily mined Northwestern districts in Oddar Meanchey Province, close to the infamous “K5 belt”. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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Mine Detecting Rats 01
Siem Reap, Cambodia
By George Nickels
19 Apr 2015

Sean Veana 40 has been a deminer with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre for the past 20 years. When I questioned him regarding his experiences as a mine technician, he told me of 2 colleagues who had recently been injured, one in Kampong Thom Province had lost both his arms, the other man had been left blind when a mine exploded shattering the visor on his protective helmet. Both men received $2000 compensation. CMAC demining unit 4 headquarters, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

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The birth of my son 16
Phnom Penh,Cambodia
By George Nickels
27 Dec 2014

My son after leaving the bath room and returning to our room in the clinic.

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The Birth of my son 17
Phnom Penh,Cambodia
By George Nickels
27 Dec 2014

Content and restfull, my son has his first sleep out in the big wide world.

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The birth of my son 18
Phnom Penh,Cambodia
By George Nickels
27 Dec 2014

My partner Madeline feeds my son Frank during the early hours of the morning.