PM Hun Sen declares five provinces landmines free, to cooperate with Thai side to clear mines along the borders
A Cambodian de-miner from the Cambodia Self Help Demining (CSHD) probes for mines after being detected with metal detectors in the field at the Training and Mine Unexploded Ordnance Clearance Center (TMCC) in Oudong, some 40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh on Nov. 27, 2011. (Photo: AFP)
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that his government will send three demining experts from Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) to help train Ukrainian de-miners following a request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Recently, the Royal Government decided to send three expert de-miners from CMAC to help train Ukrainian de-miners under the Japanese Assistance Project in Ukraine demining,” Hun Sen said in a short statement at the closing ceremony of the National Convention on Mine Action in Cambodia on Nov. 22.
Since 2006, Cambodia has dispatched landmine clearing teams under the United Nations to Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Mali, Central Africa, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
Zelenskyy made the request on the sidelines of the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit held in Phnom Penh earlier this month when Hun Sen also agreed to visit Ukraine at an “appropriate time” and for the two countries to exchange ambassadors.
Hun Sen also announced that Cambodia has declared five provinces – Phnom Penh, Stung Treng, Kep, Prey Veng, and Sihanoukville – land mine free, adding another eight provinces would also be mine-free shortly.
Cambodia has run an extensive demining operation since a 30-year war ended in 1998, and spent about US$200 million in cooperation with Western countries and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and hopes to be free of land mines and explosive remnants of war by 2025.
However, de-miners are confronted by a range of issues including difficulties to access terrain in heavily forested areas, on mountainsides and along the Thai border.
Hun Sen urged the governors of border provinces, ministries and relevant institutions to cooperate with the Thai side to clear mines along the two countries borders.
“I and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth [Chan-o-cha] have agreed to clear mines along the borders,” Hun Sen said, noting that the Cambodia-Vietnam border and the Cambodia-Laos border are now mine-free.
CMAC has also said there is a US$76 million funding shortfall, required to meet the 2025 target and according to the UNDP, Cambodia needs at least another US$136 million to clear about 716 square kilometers of contaminated land.
That includes funding for an extra 2,000 de-miners.
On July 4, Hun Sen launched a fundraising drive targeting US$90 million to fill the gap. About one million people still live in contaminated areas across Cambodia and for the first six months of this year landmines and ERW claimed 40 victims, up 23 percent from the same period a year ago.
“Ministries and institutions that have national development plans related to demining and explosive remnants must cooperate with the Mine Authority to determine appropriate and effective demining methods,” Hun Sen said Tuesday.
He said this would “ensure that demining and explosive operations comply with quality, safety and standards of clearances.”
From 1979 to August 2022, landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) explosions claimed 19,818 lives and either injured or amputated 45,186 others.
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