Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) officials expect to reach 1.4 million people in their efforts to educate members of the public in high-risk areas about the dangers posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Ly Thuch, CMAA first vice-president, said on November 19 that there is no upper limit on the number of people the authority aims to reach in any given time period. However, in 2023, the CMAA has identified target areas in Preah Vihear, Pailin, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces, and is conducting frequent public awareness campaigns there.

He explained that in addition to the CMAA’s work, education programmes that teach people about the risks associated with mines and UXOs are integrated into school curriculums, from primary school to secondary school and college.

“This means awareness raising is carried out regularly by teachers. Separately, we also conduct outreach education programmes in the villages when our operators are working to clear mines,” he said.

According to Thuch, this year the CMAA expects to reach 1.4 million people from affected communities.

“Mine awareness campaign is a necessary task that contributes to reducing poverty in Cambodia by preventing people from continuing to suffer from the threat of landmines,” he said.

Although Cambodia aims to complete landmine clearance by 2025, outreach programmes and education remain a priority, as they contribute to public awareness and remind people in the target area to maintain vigilance about the dangers of landmines and UXOs, he added.

On November 17, CMAA officials conducted an awareness campaign on the dangers of landmines and UXOs and erected informational billboards at Kandal Primary School in Anlong Reap commune’s Kandal village of Pursat province’s Veal Veng district, in a bid to make the students and their communities aware of the potential danger and prevent further casualties.

In a related development, Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), took to social media on November 16 to announce that the CMAC is ready to send five officials to a training course in Japan.

He added that the training will strengthen their capacity to organise and manage the “Techo Santepheap Museum”, which exhibits images, documents, contraband and witness statements, in order to educate the younger generation about the history, tragedy and destruction caused by the Kingdom’s past wars.

“The Techo Santepheap Museum project is very important, as it educates people and promotes the values of peace,” he said.

Heng Ratana added that 18 countries in Asia have peace museums, including 85 in Japan, 20 in South Korea and 14 in China.

He noted that education that promotes the value of peace to the youth is strongly encouraged in Japan. Each year, the peace museums receive more than 2,000 primary or secondary school visits, with more than one million young Japanese learning from the visits.