Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), acknowledges Canada as a nation that has made significant strides in both the peacemaking process and socio-economic development within Cambodia.

Further, he voiced the intention of both countries to strengthen their cooperation, setting an ambitious target of a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025.

Thuch’s comments came during his July 4 meeting with Canadian ambassador to Cambodia Sarah Taylor. The occasion marked a dual celebration: the 156th anniversary of Canada’s National Day and the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Cambodia.

Reflecting on the historical bonds, Thuch noted that over the course of nearly 70 years, Cambodia and Canada have built a strong friendship based on mutual cooperation and partnership. He highlighted Canada’s important role in Cambodia’s ongoing journey towards peace and socio-economic development.

“Canada has provided support across various sectors, including trade, investment, mine action, peacekeeping, vocational training, humanitarian assistance and development cooperation,” Thuch stated.

“The bond of cooperation and friendship between Cambodia and Canada will continue to flourish in both bilateral and multilateral arenas, benefiting the citizens of both nations,” he said.

Seizing this moment, Thuch, representing the government and in his capacity as first vice-president of the CMAA, expressed gratitude to Canada for its contributions towards humanitarian mine action in Cambodia.

He praised the joint programme of the CMAA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and pledged continued support for demining operations, targeting a mine-free Cambodia 2025.

“The generosity of the Canadian government and its people has truly helped save lives, reduce fatalities and transform landmine fields into productive spaces for housing, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, agriculture and various other purposes,” he said.

Thuch also conveyed optimism about the expansion of bilateral cooperation. He expressed hope that Canada, along with other “friendly” countries, would continue to contribute to Cambodia’s quest for a mine-free nation.

Recent statistics from the CMAA indicate an increase in victims of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in the first six months of this year. The report revealed a 48 per cent rise in incidents compared to the same period last year, with a total of 21 victims: eight from landmines and 13 from ERWs, resulting in three fatalities and 12 injuries.

On the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Cambodia, both nations anticipate new opportunities for boosting bilateral trade and welcoming Canadian tourists back to Cambodia.