Cambodia has requested that Canada consider supporting a research project and review the current status of minefields as related to land use across the country to reduce the cost and time for demining.
Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) first vice-president Ly Thuch told The Post on December 16 that since 1999 the Canadian government has played a crucial role and provided more than $17 million to support demining activities in Cambodia.
Through this budget, Canada has supported minefield research across the country. Compiling new data for mapping will make it easier to locate mines in the country, because, without an updated map, it will be a very challenging job to clear landmines in Cambodia.
“Over the past two decades, the real statuses of [some] minefields have changed, so we have to update the data. That will make it easier for operators to set goals and budgets for demining efforts,” he said.
“We want to ask [Canada] to help support new data collection because the data we have in use is old. We have to inspect the locations for sure to see how many mine-contaminated plantations remain.
“Once we have gathered the latest data on landmines, and determined which areas have been cleared of mines, we would not need to conduct demining operations there because we can guarantee safety for citizens who use the land,” he said.
Thuch said Canada would consider supporting the project because it has identified Cambodia as a country that needs demining assistance.
“Currently, Cambodia has cleared landmines from an area of 2,100sq km, but there is still another 2,000sq km of uncleared landmines. To date, Cambodians who were killed by mines numbered over 25,000 - placing Cambodia just behind Afghanistan [on the global landmine fatality list],” he said.
Cambodia Self-Help Demining training manager Chhun Bora said that through assistance from abroad Cambodia has been conducting detection research to draft maps to determine landmine zones.
He said that due to population growth and the appreciation of land prices people have occupied plantations with mines.
“Because the landmine risk has increased our demining operations are still ongoing. Nevertheless, demining is still a difficult matter,” he said.
Bora added that people are occupying land way faster than the demining rate, mainly because of the limited funds to demine the affected areas.
Once Cambodia has received aid from partners, it will survey lands to determine new minefield locations and remove former minefields from demining maps.
“If there is no danger on certain land, we would determine as such and remove it from our maps for demining,” he said.
In its Facebook post on December 16, the Canadian embassy in Cambodia said that since 1994, the Canadian government has contributed approximately $50 million to demining efforts in Cambodia.
And between 1994 and 2000, more than 60 Canadian Armed Forces members worked with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to find and remove deadly land mines.
The Canadian government also contributed to the demining initiative through the ‘’Clearing for Results” project, Agriculture Development in Mine Affected Areas of Cambodia (ADMAC) and the first comprehensive Cambodian National Level One Survey (L1S), to collect and register information about mines/UXO-affected areas into the national database, and helping to prioritise and plan demining campaigns.