Cambodia recommits to clearing up mine-affected areas by 2025

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Cambodia recommits to meeting its 2025 demining goal during the Fourth Review Conference on Mine-Free World held in Oslo, Norway. Cambodian mine action authority

At the Fourth Review Conference on a Mine-Free World held in Oslo, Norway, from November 25-29, Cambodia recommitted to its goal of clearing all land containing mines and cluster bombs by 2025.

In a press release on Sunday, Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) vowed to do its best to clear mines on the remaining 890sq km of mine-threatened land in Cambodia.

The CMAA said Cambodia has specific plans to detect mines in 73 districts over the next two years and urged the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to participate in mine-clearing activities.

The CMAA said it would continue to come up with new methods to allow operators to reduce threats from the lands sooner and attract donations for mine-clearing activities.

“From 2020 to 2025, Cambodia must clear 110sq km of mine-laden land every year – consisting of 62sq km areas with cluster bombs and 42sq km areas with unexploded ordnance. Cambodia will need $377 million in funds to clear mines.

“Of the fund, $165 million will be allocated for mine areas, $121 million for cluster bombs, $39 million for detecting areas with unexploded ordnance, and $52 million for management work,” it said.

Senior minister and CMAA secretary-general Ly Thuch said during the conference that from 1992 to October of this year, 64,849 people had died from and been disabled by mines and unexploded ordnance in the Kingdom.

He said Cambodia had held several victim assistance forums and enforced laws and policies for the care of disabled persons.

Thuch gave a three-point report on the mine clearance progress in Cambodia, including the country’s request for a delay in the mine-clearance goal, Cambodia’s efforts to assist mine victims, and its collaborations with humanitarian groups.

In a separate statement, Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana said on Sunday that land suspected to have mines and unexploded ordnance was estimated at more than 1,800sq km.

Of the land, an estimated 900sq km is on mine plantations. The CMAC plans to clear some 70 per cent of the remaining mine plantation land by 2025.

“We don’t have any specific area, but most of our mission is to pay attention to locations in some provinces along the Cambodian-Thai border. We have many difficulties because all the target areas are in remote places.

“There are a lot of mines in mountains and forests that make the transport of machinery impossible. We must use human labour directly,” he stressed.

He said that the CMAC lacked funds for mine-clearance activities, but that some development partners such as Japan, Australia, the US, South Korea and UN Development Programme had still vowed to actively support the activities.

Chhun Bora, training manager at Cambodian Self Help Demining (CSHD), said the work of clearing mines and unexploded ordnance is faced with a lot of challenges, especially insufficient funds.

He said the technical and human resource issues, such as the use of machinery for demining, are less of a problem compared to the lack of funds.

“We only lack money. If we lack money to support our activities, our work will not be fulfilled as planned by 2025. But if we have money, the work will be smooth and might be completed before the set year.

“So, I would like to call on donors like the US to continue supporting mine clearance. Please continue to help Cambodia,” he urged.

A press release from the CMAA said from 1992 to December last year, Cambodia had demined 1,823sq km and detected and destroyed 1,064,354 anti-person mines, 24,840 anti-vehicle mines and 2,775,748 unexploded ordnances.