Cambodian and Thai mine authorities have agreed to step up cooperation in demining activities along the two countries’ frontier, the former’s top official said on Thursday.
The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana on Wednesday had a meeting with his Thai counterpart, Sittipol Nimnuan, after which they agreed to simultaneously demine the areas within a 3km radius from the border on both sides of the two countries.
Ratana said: “We agreed to start in Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces, while the Thailand Mine Action Centre [TMAC] works on their side [of the border]. Next steps are to be discussed in the meeting.”
The cooperation, he said, is aimed at ensuring that people living along the border would not become the next victims of exploding landmines.
After the meeting, Ratana toured a hospital in Thailand’s Surin province – near the border with Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province – to learn about artificial limbs. He was joined by Hans Brattskar, the Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, and his officials.
After the tour, Brattskar and his team inspected a minefield in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai district where a demining operation is ongoing.
The delegates then went further afield to the Peace Museum of Mine Action in Siem Reap province on Thursday.
Separately, on Wednesday, a farmer uncovered a landmine while ploughing his rice field in Samlot district’s Ta Sanh commune in Battambang province.
The commune police inspected the site upon receiving a report from the farmer. They then removed the unexploded ordnance (UXO) and brought it to the district police station.
“The farmer was very lucky that the pressure on the landmine was not heavy enough to trigger it to explode, otherwise there might have been a disaster,” said the provincial police chief, Ouch Sokhon, who had asked the CMAC team to deactivate it.