Ly Thuch, Senior Minister and First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), called on government officials at all levels to continue spreading awareness about the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) whenever meeting with the public in a group setting given the recent flooding in some provinces which may have exposed buried dangers.
Thuch’s appeal came during the installation of a banner on November 2 that is meant to raise awareness about landmines and ERW in Stung Kach commune of Pailin province’s Sala Krao district near the border with Thailand.
The ceremony was also attended by Hem Rithy, deputy provincial governor and other local authorities, officials and members of the public.
“I call on [all government authorities] to continue to spread awareness about landmines and ERW in all public discussions and forums they attend,” he said.
“In particular, it is necessary to make regular reports to the government’s working group in the provinces, towns, districts and communes on any suspected locations of minefields locally for guidance and further action,” he said.
Thuch also urged the police officers working along the border to continue to help people avoid risking their lives by entering areas with an unclear status as to mines and ERW and to absolutely never touch any mines or ERW.
“If people see landmines or ERW, they must immediately report it to local authorities such as their commune chiefs, village chiefs, mine clearance operators or police,” he said.
Thuch also conveyed the condolences and sympathies of the Prime Minister and his wife to the child victims and their families who were involved in the landmine accident on October 30.
Three of the children lived in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor district and the other in Pursat province’s Phnom Kravanh district.
“I request that all parents pay close attention to their children’s safety. Parents must instruct their children to be cautious and to stay away from unexploded ordnance and suspected landmines,” he said.
According to the CMAA, Thuch is on a mission to Pailin, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces over November 2-3 to post billboards and educate the public about mines and ERW because those provinces suffered from heavy flooding which churned up the earth and this often exposes previously hidden dangers of this variety.
As of September, Sala Krao district’s Stung Kach commune has cleared 14.5 square km of land by finding and destroying 24,790 anti-personnel mines, 73 tank mines and 89,930 ERW. The uncleared land remaining there is now only 1.6 square km in area, according to CMAA.
According to CMAA’s data, from 1979 to October 2021 the total number of victims of landmines and ERW in Stung Kach commune was 446 – 389 victims of mines and 57 victims of ERW – or 31 per cent of the 1,426 total victims in Pailin province over that period.