In a move to aid humanitarian mine action in Cambodia, the Irish ambassador to Cambodia Deirdre Ni Fhalluin, along with Niall Tierney, director of Global Programmes at Irish Aid, visited the HALO Cambodia team in Siem Reap province on June 14.

The trip focused on evaluating the impact of Ireland's contributions and presenting new equipment to demining teams, as per a June 14 joint press release.

According to the release, Ireland has allocated a generous grant of €800,000 (about $860,000) to support HALO's efforts in Cambodia this year. This latest grant adds to the €4.7 million ($5 million) Ireland has provided over the past eight years to assist in clearance operations in the region.

It added that Cambodia continues to struggle with widespread landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination, despite decades of clearance efforts. Since 1979, more than 65,000 Cambodians have been killed or severely injured by unexploded ordnance (UXO). Due to extensive mine action by various organisations, annual casualties have decreased considerably, from 2,069 in 1993 to fewer than 30 in 2023.

The HALO Trust, an internationally recognised organisation specialising in humanitarian mine clearance, plans to use the Irish grant to deploy seven manual mine clearance teams, one survey/explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit and one Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) team.

Ambassador Ni Fhalluin, who is based is Hanoi, Vietnam, underscored the value of Ireland's partnerships with organisations like HALO, which are instrumental in demining efforts.

“Since 1994, Irish Aid has supported HALO Trust’s humanitarian mine clearance programme in Cambodia. We are very proud that Irish Aid-funded teams have cleared 361 villages of 31,343 landmines, returning over 3,684 hectares of land to communities for agricultural use and sustainable development. This has a real positive impact for communities today and also benefits future generations,” she was quoted as saying.

Tierney emphasised Ireland's dedication, noting, "Disarmament is a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy. [We] continue to play a leading role in efforts to promote disarmament and non-proliferation. Our work with HALO Trust in Cambodia is part of this global commitment.”

Miles Hawthorn, HALO Trust programme manager for Cambodia, expressed gratitude for Ireland’s ongoing support in 2024.

“This support from Ireland will contribute towards the government’s mine-free strategy for Cambodia and move us all closer to building recovery,” he stated.

The continuing partnership between Ireland and HALO Trust marks a crucial step towards creating safer, mine-free communities in Cambodia, ultimately paving the way for sustainable development and improved livelihoods for future generations, as per the press release.