The Samdech Techo for Mine Action Project, which was established in early July, has so far received contributions of nearly $20 million from various philanthropists. The donors aim to join the government as it works to achieve its goal of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.
Senior Minister Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), on November 14 received a 20 million riel donation from the Cambodian Reinsurance Company “Cambodia Re” to the project.
“We have received large and small donations from philanthropists. We do not think more or less of anyone, regardless of the size of their contribution. There are no limits to the boundless love that Cambodians have for their countrymen, and we have so far collected over $18 million,” he added.
The Samdech Techo Mine Action Project, which operates under the slogan “Providing Safe Ground, Creating Smiles” has already cleared approximately 520 minefields, which cover a total of 42.5sq km.
“To clear this land cost us more than $5.7 million. We plan to remove minefields in Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Takeo, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot and Svay Rieng provinces next, along with seven communes in Phnom Sruoch district, Kampong Speu province,” said Thuch.
He added that the demining teams were working as fast as they could safely do, and hoped to declare some provinces mine-free b the end of the year.
“We have been working on demining for 30 years, since 1992. To date, we have cleared more than 2,400sq km. We need to finish another 2,000sq km if we want to meet our 2025 goal,” he said.
After the demining work is completed, their next task will be to clear about five or six hundred square kilometers of cluster munitions. Finally, other bombs and shells must be removed.
As a member of the mine action family, he expressed his deep gratitude to Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is always sure to raise the issue of demining when he meets with heads of state and world leaders.
“He has given new lives to the more than 1.1 million people living in cleared areas. They can now live their lives without fear,” he said.
Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said the prime minister has made a clear commitment to the 2025 goal, and this was reflected in his efforts to gain support for clearance activities.
“We are continuing to clear mines, but after working in this field for many years, I know we have a long way to go. With that being said, we will not stop until we have cleared every minefield that has been recorded in our national database,” he added.
CMAC has been working closely with its Japanese partners to send training teams to Ukraine. According to current plans, the first group will leave in early December, with another slated to depart in the first quarter of next year.