Japanese mine aid agreed

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The Cambodian Mine Action Centre will receive $401,650 in Japanese aid to help in demining efforts in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai and O’Çhrov dictricts. Photo supplied

The Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) is to provide the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) with $401,650 in untied aid following the signing of an agreement on Monday.

JMAS representative Noriyoshi Suenaga and CMAC director-general Heng Ratana signed off on the agreement.

The financial support is intended to develop mine-clearance projects in Banteay Meanchey province’s Malai and O’Chrov districts for 12 months – from Tuesday to October 7 next year.

Malai and O’Chrov districts were selected as target areas as both contain large numbers of mines which pose a threat to the lives of residents, Ratana told The Post on Tuesday.

Some of the land targeted is being used by locals for farming, with other parts forest land.

“First we will clear mines at places near roads in order to ensure the safety of drivers, then we will look at land in agricultural and forest areas,” Ratana said.

On Friday, the Japanese government, through its embassy in Cambodia, provided $1,052,298 in untied aid to JMAS and NGO People’s Hope Japan (PHJ).

JMAS is implementing action plans in mine clearance and community development in Banteay Meanchey province for a third year.

PHJ aims to improve the health of people in the community and support children’s aid networks in Kampong Cham province.

Since 2002, the Japanese government has provided more than $37 million in aid to Japanese NGOs across some 120 projects to develop sectors including education, health, agriculture and mine clearance.

Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey said that despite CMAC carrying out mine clearance operations in Malai and O’Chrov districts, some areas still contained unexploded ordnance.

He said the implementation of the new Japanese-funded projects would see the districts become mine-free.

“Only a small number of mines remain in certain areas, but we need to clear them so people can live and farm safely,” Reatrey said.

While mines have yet to go off in Malai and O’Chrov districts, two explosions were reported last year in Banteay Meanchey’s Thma Puok district close to the border with Oddar Meanchey province, he added.

Nearly four million mines have so far been cleared, nearly 50 per cent of the estimated number still posing a risk to life, Ratana said.

Mine clearance operations are being carried close to the Thai border in the northwestern provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin, Preah Vihear and Pursat.