UCA News
Contribute

Yet another Cambodian province bids farewell to landmines

Govt is confident it will declare the whole nation landmine-free by next year
A sign board warning of landmines in Oudong, nearly 40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh. Nearly three decades of civil war made Cambodia one of the world's most heavily mined nations.

A sign board warning of landmines in Oudong, nearly 40 kilometers north of Phnom Penh. Nearly three decades of civil war made Cambodia one of the world's most heavily mined nations. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 28, 2024 05:11 AM GMT
Updated: March 28, 2024 06:09 AM GMT

More than half of Cambodia’s 24 provinces have been declared landmine-free with the government of Prime Minister Hun Manet confident that the entire Southeast Asian nation will finally be cleared of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) by a 2025 deadline.

North-eastern Kratie province — a major battlefield in Cambodia’s 32-year civil war — became the latest province on March 26 to be declared free of ERWs where deminers have destroyed about 60,000 ERWs since 2003, which were endangering nearly 400,000 people over 133 square km.

"It is a historic day for the people in Kratie, as they are now free from the threat of landmines,” Ly Thuch, vice-president of the state-run Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said in a speech reported in the Khmer media.

“Some 1,854 square km of land in Cambodia are still contaminated with mines and ERWs, affecting more than 1.1 million people,” Thuch said, adding that Cambodia remained committed to its ERW-free target date of 2025.

Between 4 and 6 million ERWs are littered across Cambodia’s remaining nine provinces, a legacy of the 1967-1998 conflicts. Most landmines were laid by the communist Khmer Rouge after they were ousted from power by a Vietnamese invasion in 1979.

But the Vietnamese and Thai militaries, warring factions in Cambodia and the American bombings of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge and other communist forces during the Vietnam War have also contributed to the blight.

Deminers were first deployed in 1994, clearing land for agriculture and dramatically reducing casualty rates but Cambodia had repeatedly missed target dates to rid the country of the scourge.

Five years ago. the government announced it would bolster its demining force by 2,000 men and women and deploy a broad strategy to clear the country of all landmines and unexploded ordnance by 2025 with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme.

Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States have backed Cambodia’s efforts, contributing extra funds to help train and kit out soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

According to the latest CMAA figures, landmine and ERW detonations claimed 19,822 lives and wounded another 45,215 people, often resulting in amputations, between 1979 and 2023.

Hun Manet, who took over as prime minister from his father Hun Sen in August last year, has said a landmine-free declaration would be among the proudest achievements of his government, made possible by the generous donations by friendly countries, development partners, and philanthropists.

“In just over three months of this mandate’s term, three provinces have been declared mine-free: Kampong Speu, Mondulkiri and Kratie,” he has said in a statement.

Thuch said ERW clearance operations are now focused on the provinces of Siem Reap, Ratanakiri, Battambang, Koh Kong, Pursat, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddor Meanchey, Kampong Thom, and Preah Vihear.

“Kratie is one of three provinces that have been declared mine-free since Hun Manet took office,” he said. “This is a testament to his patriotism, and how hard he is working to serve the nation and its people.”

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia