The Cambodian Mine Action Centre announced on Sunday that it would be clearing more than 50 square kilometres of landmine-riddled territory in northwestern Cambodia this year, but warned that a budget shortfall could hinder its operations.
Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC, said yesterday that the centre had secured roughly 70 percent of its estimated US$11 million budget for projects in 2011.
“The budget situation now is not good for us, and the 30 percent budget shortage would impact our [future] operations,” he said. “At the moment, we continue to appeal to donor countries, or we will consider reducing some of our projects.”
Heng Ratana said the Cambodian Government funded between 17 and 20 percent of this year’s budget, for projects mostly focused around Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Preah Vihear provinces.
Leng Sochea, deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, said budget shortfalls for mine clearance had been a problem the past two years, citing the world economic crisis as a reason why donor countries had curtailed funding.
In 2010, Cambodia registered its first year-on-year increase in casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war since 2005, according to figures from the Cambodia Mine/ERW Victim Information System.
Leng Sochea said the increase in casualties was in part due to rural Cambodians that have “moved to landmine areas to expand their land for agriculture”.
Earlier this month, a 52-year-old farmer was killed by an unexploded ordnance while expanding his corn and cassava fields into areas of Battambang province’s Samlot district.
The United Nations Mine Action Centre has appealed for $498 million to assist in mine action initiatives this year in 29 countries, including Cambodia, according to a statement released on Friday.
Leng Sochea said yesterday that 648 square kilometres of landmine-infested land needed to be cleared by CMAC and CMAA in the next 10 years.