Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) Director General Heng Ratana on Sunday said the demining body was currently facing a roughly $2 million deficit in its $18 million budget for 2018, which is meant to go towards clearing some 120 square kilometres of mine-contaminated land.
Ratana, who heads CMAC, said that the lack of budget could force the group to rethink its demining and ordnance clearing activities, but was hopeful that funding could be sought later in the year to plug the deficit.
“Sometimes, early in the year, we cannot find [funding], but towards the end of the year they can decide to give us funding when their fiscal year begins,” he said. “Like the US, they could provide the funding for our planned work [later].”
The United States pulled its annual $2 million in funding from the demining group last year as officials ramped up anti-US rhetoric amid a government crackdown on the opposition, independent media and civil society groups.
Ratana himself has also been a staunch critic of the US’s handling of its wartime legacy in Cambodia, often taking to Facebook to criticise the superpower.
The US Embassy in Phnom Penh at the time said the $2 million would go to a “world-class removal program” through an open bid process, which Ratana said CMAC would be part of.
China, which has exerted a growing influence over the Kingdom, also pledged to prioritise demining and unexploded ordnance clearance, though details are yet to emerge on this funding.
Ratana said that if the budget deficit could not be met then the body will reassess its demining activities to focus on priority areas in the country.