Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia's de-mining funds decline



Cambodia's de-mining funds decline

Cambodia's de-mining funds decline

120622_04

The explosion that resulted after British Ambassador Mark Gooding detonated a heap of landmines in Battambang earlier this month. INSET: A few of the landmines that were detonated. Photograph: MAG

When British Ambassador Mark Gooding detonated a heap of landmines and unexploded ordinance in Battambang province earlier this month he helped refocus waning attention on the families and communities that remain trapped in poverty due to the landmines and other unexploded remnants of war that surround them.

Gooding was careful to note that the detonation was a “step” in the process of ridding Cambodia of landmines, which even the most optimistic experts say will take at least another eight years to complete.

The dramatic decline in causality numbers over the past decade has led some to believe that clearance is nearly complete, but a major reason for the decline is that village residents are better educated about where the landmines are. They are simply avoiding this land, which could be used for farming if cleared. Instead, many remain trapped in dire poverty.

As Gooding noted, clearance “helps communities establish sustainable livelihoods and will contribute to Cambodia’s long-term economic and social development.”

Still, funding for de-mining is declining. The Cambodia’s National Mine Action Strategy for 2010 to 2019 estimates the cost of making the country landmine free by 2020 at US$455 million, but last September Landmine Monitor reported that funding fell 27 per cent from 2009 to 2010. “If this trend continues it will be difficult to see completion with a reduced capacity,” warns Alistair Moir, country director of Mines Advisory Group.

Moir is calling on reporters to look more deeply into the issue. “Although casualty stories are of course a tragedy to those involved and so rightly reported, more thoughtful articles are of great use in order to better understand the less visible, more chronic implications of contamination, such as the stifling of crop production, infrastructure projects or house building,” he said.

Pointing to the example of Chisang village in Battambang province, Moir noted that it had “blossomed” following the clearance of 14 minefields around it. After clearance World Vision “then used their wider development expertise to build roads, a school and water pumps. Farmers now had larger areas for crop production so enjoyed a surplus they could sell”.

Still, funding cuts have led to MAG shutting down its clearance operations in Eastern Cambodia, where as many as 26 million cluster munitions were dropped between 1965 and 1973 during the so-called secret bombing of Cambodia.

It’s time for those who dropped the bombs, as well as the many foreign governments who sparked and prolonged Cambodia’s civil conflict, to – at the very least – start paying the bill they owe for the disaster they created. Symbolic gestures are not enough.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vincent MacIsaac at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the