The Kingdom needs an additional $138 million for the 2023-2025 period to achieve the government’s mine-free vision by 2025 and meet its Ottawa Treaty commitments, Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) first vice-president Ly Thuch said last week.

“If the Cambodian government provides $30 million annually for 2024 and 2025, as it did in 2023, we [the CMAA] will have $60 million of the $138 million,” he said during an April 4 technical working group meeting on mine action.

Hence, the Kingdom is looking to international donors to provide an additional $78 million for mine action work over 2024-2025, he noted.

Thuch recapped that between 2020 and 2022, 420sq km were cleared of landmines, and that the plan is to clear another 411sq km this year – 356sq km remain for the April-December period – and an additional 179sq km over 2024-2025. The humanitarian work is projected to cost roughly $46 million annually, or $138 million over 2023-2025, he said.

The 1997 Ottawa Treaty, formally the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction” seeks to rid the world of anti-personnel landmines – but stops short of placing restrictions on their anti-vehicle counterparts, which has been a subject of criticism.

At the same meeting, UNDP Cambodia resident representative Alissar Chaker pointed out that the UN marks International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4.

“This year’s theme is ‘Mine Action Cannot Wait’, a theme of high relevance in Cambodia as the Kingdom is striving to achieve its 2025 goal of mine-free Cambodia.

“The [UNDP] is resolute that mine action is inherently linked to larger socio-economic development prospects. Clearing landmines allows people to live in safety and shape their futures – free from the fear that the next step could be their last. It is an enabler for achieving Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Clearing landmines means that farmers can work their land; children can get to their school; and roads, markets and local amenities can be developed. Through clearance and land release new opportunities have been and are being created, helping to drive forward socio-economic development.

“The UNDP engagement in mine action in Cambodia began in 1992. From 2006 to 2022, the ‘Clearing for Results’ project – now in its fourth phase – contributed to over 18 per cent of the sector achievements, thanks to the strong partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, mine action operators and development partners,” she said.

Chaker praised the government for allocating $30 million from the national budget for mine clearance this year, as it is likewise set to do for 2024 and 2025.

“Nonetheless, additional funds from the international community will be required to release all remaining minefields in Cambodia. We [the UNDP], therefore, urge the Friends of Cambodia to scale-up their financial support for making Mine Free Cambodia a reality,” she added.