Prey Veng declared second mine-free province

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Officials celebrate Prey Veng province’s landmine-free status in Svay Antor district on May 12. CMAA

Prey Veng is now the second province to be declared landmine free – after Kep – though some undiscovered munitions and cluster bombs as well as other unexploded ordnance (UXO) remain to be cleared, according to Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA).

The landmine-free celebration event was held on May 12 in Prey Veng’s Svay Antor district.

“This is a historic day, not just for the people of Prey Veng province, but for all of the people of Cambodia,” said Thuch.

Thuch warned that dangers remained in Prey Veng from bombs dropped by aircraft – such as cluster bombs – and UXOs on 164sq km of land, made up of 1,298 farms. These areas needed to be cleared promptly, he added.

Thuch thanked all donor countries and development partners for providing assistance to Cambodia in mine clearance work. He said the government is on track to clear five more lightly affected provinces: Kampong Cham, with 98ha affected), Preah Sihanouk (174ha), Ratanakkiri (275ha), Kampong Chhnang (328ha) and Takeo (363ha).

Anthony Galliano, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AmCham), who attended the ceremony, said that CMAA had contributed a lot to the government’s mine clearance efforts.

He said he will continue to mobilise more resources – from those parts of the private sector under his facilitation – to contribute to mine action, which saves the lives of Cambodian people.

“Mine clearance is a job for all of us. It requires participation from relevant actors, donor countries, development partners, and generous individuals to end the threat of mines in Cambodia,” he said.

Thuch listed several outstanding donors who contributed to this valuable work, including the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, China, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, Ireland, Hungary, UNDP, UNICEF, and many other civil society organisations.

Kep was the first province to be declared landmine free, in February this year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in February that in the 29 years from 1992 to 2021, a total land area of 2,325sq km had been cleared and turned into usable land, with 71 per cent of the land having been allocated for use in agriculture, eight per cent for public infrastructure, and 21 per cent for the building of homes, schools and health centres.

He expressed appreciation for the work carried out by de-miners, adding that mine-related casualties had reduced from 4,320 in 1996 to just 44 in 2021.