Mine clearing ratchets up in Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
On the cleared land, 69,815 anti-personnel mines, 1,496 anti-tank mines and 212,555 explosive remnants of war were destroyed. CMAC

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) released a report on Thursday, which said it had cleared mines on 246.5sq km of land from 2006 to July 2020.

On the cleared land, 69,815 anti-personnel mines, 1,496 anti-tank mines and 212,555 explosive remnants of war were found and destroyed. The removal of the mines has benefitted 1.03 million residents.

The report said Banteay Meanchey province is one of the worst-affected for mines. In Banteay Meanchey alone, 223sq km of land was cleared of them while the remaining 147sq km in the province is still under threat.

As of June, 8,882 residents of Banteay Meanchey had been victimised by mines and bombs, equivalent to 14 per cent of the nation’s total number of mine and bomb victims.

“In particular, O’Beichoan commune is one that has the most mines in Banteay Meanchey. There have been 138 casualties due to mines, of whom 10 are women.

“O’Beichoan commune has 17.4sq km of land that has been cleared and the remaining 16.5sq km is suspected to have mines,” the report said.

Senior Minister and CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch said on Thursday that on Wednesday he led representatives from Australia, the Republic of South Korea and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) – all donors to the mine clearance project – to visit the CMAC’s mine clearance locations in Prasat Village in O’Beichoan commune.

He also met with people who had benefitted from the cleared mines.

Thuch said Cambodia receives funds from the US, England, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, China, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Unicef. Civil society groups and generous private parties have also contributed to solving mine issues in Cambodia.

The funds have helped the government implement its National Mine Action Strategy 2018-2025.

“We met directly with those who benefitted from land cleared of mines. We handed out letters certifying that five villages are free of mine threats as well. Banteay Meanchey province gets greater attention from the Cambodian government and donors for clearing mines,” he said.

UNDP Cambodia said on Wednesday that despite Covid-19, the mine clearance project had continued its duty of saving people affected directly by mines.

It said on Wednesday, senior officials and representatives of CMAA, the UNDP, Australia, the Republic of South Korea and New Zealand inspected mine-containing plantations in O’Beichoan commune in Banteay Meanchey province.

The commune had 243 mine-containing plantations with explosive remnants of war that have since been cleared.

On February, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia was committed to clearing mine-affected areas completely by 2025.

The prime minister said Cambodia needs some $377 million to clear mines and explosive remnants of war on a remaining 806sq km.