Deminers are lauded for exhibiting courage in the face of adverse
conditions as Cambodia continues to make its mark in peacekeeping
Cambodian deminers return to the country Friday after a year demining in Sudan.
A TEAM of Cambodian deminers working as part of a UN peacekeeping force in Sudan has returned to the kingdom, with officials hailing the mission a success.
The yearlong assignment was the country's third since 2006. A fourth 52-man team was deployed last week.
"During our operation in Sudan, we had no injuries and succeeded in doing our work," Mey Sophea, the team's commanding officer, said during a welcoming ceremony.
He said that the 139-man team had successfully removed 800 anti-personnel mines and 17,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance from more than 13 million square metres of land.
Minister of Defence Tea Banh said the deminers had pushed through difficult conditions to receive more awards from the UN for their effort.
"Through heightened consciousness and thorough discipline ... [they] succeeded the mission so that the UN still believes Cambodia is the best among the other [demining] countries," he said.
More than 50 countries are involved in the peacekeeping mission, but only five - Cambodia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya and Zambia - offer their services through demining.
Khun Sophal, a 40-year-old deminer, said he was required to work long hours in hostile conditions.
But despite the hard work, he gained more experience in demining during the mission than ever before.
"Every day we worked from 7am to 2pm," he said. "But we have succeeded in our work, 100 percent."
Teruo Jinnai, acting president for UN agencies and representative of UNESCO, said Cambodia had proved itself as a leading country in demining and humanitarian services in post-conflict countries.
"Significantly, Cambodia has made a remarkable transition from being one of the countries most affected by mines to becoming one with the global leaders in mine clearance," he said.
"I would like to ... thank you all for the mission you just accomplished. We applaud your courage and acknowledged the success you have achieved in the challenging circumstances," he said.
Since their first deployment in 2006, Cambodian deminers have cleared more than 57 million square-meters of land in Sudan, according to a report by the Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mine and ERW Clearance.