22 February 2017 : A newsletter of the Australian Jesuits

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Jesuit Service Cambodia leader on honours list


The director of Jesuit Service Cambodia, Sr Denise Coghlan, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia in Monday's Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her service to international humanitarian aid.


Sr Denise (right) with Fr Steve Curtin SJ and refugees in Cambodia. A Sister of Mercy from Brisbane, Sr Coghlan has spent more than a decade working with Cambodians, both in refugee camps and inside the country itself.


The director of JRS Australia, David Holdcroft SJ, has welcomed the award.


'I was very happy to hear Denise's name in the honours list in what I call the extra-well deserved category', he says. 'I think Denise's work has always had a breadth where she's linking both direct work with refugees and also some of the causes of displacement like cluster munitions and landmines that she'd campaigned so successfully against.


‘Her work has been so effective within the country and she's much-loved.'


A longtime campaigner against landmines and cluster munitions, Sr Coghlan recently took part in the Dublin conference aimed at banning the manufacture of cluster bombs.


'This is a totally immoral form of behaviour to me', she said in an interview at the time with the National Catholic Reporter.


The Thai Cambodian border, she said, 'was very, very heavily infested with landmines. [But] cluster bombs were dropped much earlier-26 million cluster bombs were dropped on Cambodia in the 1970s during the Ho Chi Minh Trail.'


These unexploded ordinances continue to destroy lives in Cambodia and neighbouring Laos. Anecdotal evidence shows that cluster bombs stay active for at least 38 years, 'and probably longer in some places', said Sr Coghlan. 'Millions and millions of bomblets are left [in Laos].'



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Ray Schliebs


This is very good to see.
What Sr Denise does for others is so deserving of such an award, far more so than some recipients, eg some politicians and some well paid business people, who do what they do in the line of their work. What she has done to help Cambodian people is outstanding - congratulations Sister! Than you for all that you are doing for disadvantaged people.

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