“Minefield by minefield, village by village, district by district, province by province, Cambodia will achieve the dream of being a mine-free nation,” said Ly Thuch, First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA).

Thuch made the remark on June 14 at a regional workshop on residual risk management frameworks for Southeast Asia, held from June 14-16 in Phnom Penh, as the 2025 mine-free goal approaches.

Thuch said 2025 is almost knocking on the door and the Cambodian people still face danger from mines. The CMAA, its partners in the mine action community and the Cambodian government are working relentlessly to achieve the goal and eliminate all risks.

He said the CMAA is constantly looking at the risks and how it can manage them in the best way possible while keeping one clear goal in mind, the safety of every Cambodian. It is constantly monitoring and checking mine clearance progress, planning, and re-planning to achieve the best outcome.

According to the CMAA, it has adapted multiple land release methodologies with great success, saying it has improved and will continue to improve its management information system, not only to collect data but to analyse what it is doing and improve planning.

“This was evident with the mine-free village approach and our efforts to involve our friends from the private sector, not just in funding operations but as part of the mine action community. It is only together, hand-in-hand, that we can eliminate the risk of the remnants of war,” Thuch said.

On February 28, Kep was declared Cambodia’s first mine-free province, followed by Prey Veng on May 12, thanks to the CMAA’s mine-free village programme.

While discussing residual risks at the event, Thuch called on participants to “always” bear in mind that they are working for the people. It is a humanitarian mission to make sure that every person is safe, and can use their land without fear.

“After you identify tolerable risks, let’s take a moment and think again, how we can improve our method to further reduce this risk. I am looking forward to hearing the outcome of this workshop and all the ideas that you present and agree on,” he said.

Thuch applauded the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining for their far-sightedness in bringing the topic of risk management to prominence now, to allow for the necessary planning and preparations to occur.

He was grateful for the generous support of the governments of Switzerland and the US, without which this event would not have been possible.

Thuch encouraged the participants to fully engage with the presentations over the three-day workshop to draw information out of the many experienced presenters available and to share their own thoughts and experiences on residual risk management.

According to the CMAA, more than one million people in the country still live in fear and work in areas contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war. Cambodian needs to clear approximately 736sq km of known mine-contaminated land by 2025.