CMAC funded for mine-free Battambang

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CMAC and Crown Agent Japan Limited during the signing ceremony in Battambang province on May 23. HENG RATANA VIA FACEBOOK

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has laid out long-term plans to demine 8,000ha of afflicted land in Battambang province.

The project is expected to run from April 1 this year until December 31, 2025, at a cost of more than $12 million. Funding will be provided by the Japanese government, said CMAC director-general Heng Ratana.

Ratana said CMAC and Ritsuko Yonemichi, senior head of operations projects of Crown Agents Japan Limited (CA), signed a May 23 agreement on the implementation of Phase II of the project, which integrated mine clearance and landmine victim assistance.

“This project is part of a 2 billion-yen grant package that the Japanese government will provide to the government of Cambodia in support of CMAC’s activities,” he said.

He said the project was approved by the Japanese government in February, following a request by CMAC for support.

“We signed the agreement with a consultant after signing the protocol agreement, which had been exchanged by both governments. The Japanese government will select a consultant to manage and implement the project, in collaboration with CMAC,” he added.

He said the government’s ambition was to achieve the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty, also commonly referred to as Ottawa Convention, by 2025. The grant is a very significant contribution to achieving the goal as, without it, the deadline may not be possible to meet.

Noum Chhayroum, head of the Mine Action Planning Unit in Battambang, said on May 24 that more than 60,000ha of land in the province were contaminated by landmines. From 1992 until the end of 2021, nearly 60,000ha had been demined, with the remaining 10,000ha still awaiting clearing.

He added that over the course of the demining work, his teams had detected more than 200,000 anti-personnel mines; 4,000 anti-tank mines; and 70,000 explosive remnants of war.

“To deal with the remaining 10,000ha of contaminated land, we have three operations planned for Battambang this year. We will be working with CMAC, HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group to achieve our goals,” he said.