Cambodia has “come a long way” from being plagued with landmines and civil war to becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing nations economically, according to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), which signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NGO Platinum East aimed at improving innovation in mine clearing technology.
The MoU was signed by CMAA secretary-general Prum Sopheak Mongkol and Platinum East representative Shathel Fahs in a ceremony presided over by CMAA First Vice-President Ly Thuch on March 28 at the Mine Authority office.
Thuch said landmines and other remnants of war were problems that still “haunt” Cambodia and hamper national development, given that their presence halts productive use of land and has deadly effects on those who encounter them.
He noted that thousands of lives have been lost “on the plots of land they considered safe to start a new life and future, after decades-long wars and displacement.”
“These unlucky people never thought that their wish [of a new life] would never be realised. They could have been alive today if Cambodia had stronger technical skills, equipment and advanced technology to increase the speed of demining activities across the nation,” he said.
But he struck an optimistic tone when it came to Cambodia’s successes in spite of such issues, including the “plague” of civil war, to “now become one of the fastest-growing nations in the world, with 7.5 per cent economic growth as well as an active contributor to the UN Peacekeeping Mission.”
Through the MoU signing, it is hoped that there will be “strengthening of partnerships and cooperation to support the development of innovative technologies, training and technical support for demining, which will enhance the regional and global efficiency of the humanitarian mine action community,” said Thuch.
He added that, despite its success and good reputation in mine clearing, Cambodia still requires international assistance to further modernise its technical skills, demining innovation, detection, technological equipment and standardise the knowledge and professionalism of its mine workers.
Thuch said that CMAA was “proud” to broaden its cooperation with a variety of actors and key players in the field to “diversify support”.
He expressed the belief that Platinum East, with its expertise and innovation in the field, would eventually “revolutionise the way workers survey and clear the land and subsequently to release the land to Cambodians more quickly.”
Thuch said he hoped to see more new skill development and technologies being integrated into the mine action sector that enables operators to “perform their duties to the fullest”, and called it a “groundbreaking achievement” for Cambodia to “lead the world by example” as a country that has developed its mine workers’ skills and adapted to advance technology that addresses the complexities of landmine-related issues.