The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) on March 9 launched its China-funded "Cambodia Landmine Elimination Project Phase III 2023-2025, which supports demining operations in the provinces of Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Preah Vihear.

The project was launched on March 9 in a ceremony presided over by Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said at the ceremony that 2023 marks the start of the three-year programme, which has a total budget of $13.2 million. This year, $4.4 million will cover the clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the three provinces, which have more than 100sq km of contaminated territory.

Ratana said China had provided funding to the CMAC for two phases already from 2018 to 2022 for a total of $10 million. In the two phases, CMAC had cleared nearly 75sq km of minefields, and discovered and destroyed a total of 71,558 landmines and UXOs.

The project has contributed to community development, providing security and improving the livelihoods of a total of 214,661 households.

"For the achievements in Siem Reap province, CMAC finished the clearing of landmines and UXOs by the end of 2022. CMAC cleared 51,790,865sqm of minefields and destroyed a total of 29,185 pieces of ammunition.

The project aims to eliminate all kinds of explosive remnants of war (ERW) to eliminate the dangers from and fear of landmines and UXOs to promote physical and mental wellbeing and boost economic development, said Ratana.

Tea Banh said the operations would eliminate all landmines in Cambodia in accordance with the Kingdom’s vision and "National Mine Action Strategic Plan: Cambodia Mine-Free 2025".

Tea Banh also thanked China for providing assistance in demining Cambodia, stating: "Once the area has been cleared of landmines, tourists can visit and learn about more of the ancient temples of Siem Reap. Our people will be safe and able to farm the land that has been cleared of UXOs."