T HE Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) are no longer planting mines and have
purchased no new mines since 1992, claims Co-Minister of Defense Tea Bahn.
He said Cambodia stopped importing mines when the Cambodian Mine Action
Centre (CMAC) was opened in 1992.
"We don't buy or import mines to
Cambodia. We have a lot of mines which we have imported in the last 15 years and
we are beginning to stop using them."
He declined to provide the exact
number of mines in storage and where they are kept, but said no new mines had
been planted after the armed forces were unified in late 1993.
the chief technical advisor at CMAC, Lt-Col Serge Léveillé, said centre staff
believe new mines were laid along Highway 10 between Battambang and Pailin
during last April's Khmer Rouge-RCAF offensive. "We had news from villagers that
there have been new mines laid. It is not clear who put the mines there, but it
seems likely that both sides did... when you want to slow the enemy's advance,
you put in some mines."
CMAC chairman Ieng Mouly agreed that the army
had now stopped planting or buying mines.
Earlier, in a speech during
the celebration of Mine Awareness Day on Feb 25, Mouly called on the government
to take a strong stand against using mines and to ban the use of anti-personnel
Mouly said Cambodia's mine problem was created by
international arms dealers. Since demining efforts were begun in earnest in
1992, mines made in Vietnam, Russia, Greece, China, the United States, India,
Italy and Singapore have been unearthed from all over the
"Cambodia alone can not resolve this problem, so Cambodia needs
assistance from the international community in terms of equipment, finance and
expertise," Mouly told a crowd of nearly 1,000 people, after they had marched
through Phnom Penh to support the call for a ban on mines.
CMAC was hoping to get an $8 million injection of funds during the March 13-15
meeting in Paris of ICORC. So far, the centre has received $12 million of the
total $20 million donors pledged when it was set up.
CMAC is also
looking for funds to pay 17 foreign technical advisors over the next
Mouly said according to a Feb 13 resolution of the Council of
Ministers, CMAC has become an institution of the Royal government. Foreign
technical assistance is slated to end after April 1996.
Since CMAC was
set up it has cleared more than 8 million square meters. It has also identified
more than 2,000 mine fields and is working to mark more than 27 million square
meters of mined land.