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CMAC forges ahead with 2022 demining

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A CMAC officer during a demining operation. CMAC

CMAC forges ahead with 2022 demining

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) plans to clear nearly 200 sq km of land littered with landmines, cluster munitions and war remnants by the end of 2022, an overall increase of nearly 90 per cent if accomplished as compared to the area cleared in 2021 of 117 sq km, according to CMAC director-general Heng Ratana.

“Cambodia has planned and is committed to clearing all anti-personnel landmines by 2025, despite challenges that lie ahead. The target can only be reached with the full participation of all stakeholders and the continuous support of our development partners.

“This is a turning point in the strategy to support the [government’s] strategic plan and commitment to clear the Kingdom by 2025 and gain Cambodia’s freedom from the threat of anti-personnel landmines. This is in-line with the spirit of the Ottawa International Convention banning use of anti-personnel mines,” Ratana said.

Ratana said that CMAC would increase its education outreach and assistance to people with disabilities due to landmines to more than 600,000 households that are home to more than one million Cambodians and also strengthen the network in affected areas that are under low threat now such as Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong, Kampong Speu and Takeo provinces.

He added CMAC would strive to make these provinces anti-personnel landmine-free by the end of 2022.

CMAC will continue to work hard at training, engaging in international cooperation and working on internal reforms to increase work efficiency in 2022 by strengthening the capacity and discipline of the frontline forces and central managers while trying to ensure that they have equipment that reflects the latest technology and highest technical standards.

In 2022, CMAC’s focus will be on clearing landmines to facilitate economic development and activities, he said.

“We’ll focus our work on certain areas as much as we can to support Cambodia’s socio-economic development and recovery from the pandemic in sectors like tourism, culture, eco-tourism and the temples.

“We will also look at areas where there has been or will be provision of social land to the poor who lacked land of their own previously to ensure the areas are safe for their new occupants. These are our priority areas along with the land near the borders that hasn’t been cleared,” he said.

According to Ratana, CMAC has received financial, material and technical support from the Japanese government directly as well as through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS).

He said other major contributors to Cambodia’s demining efforts included China, the US and some nations within the EU, particularly Norway and Belgium. Further assistance has been given by Australia, South Korea, Canada and the UNDP – making the demining of Cambodia a truly global mission with the firm support of the international community.

Ratana said CMAC’s ambition is to clear all remaining minefields in Cambodia, which are estimated to cover more than 700 sq km of territory – an area larger than Singapore – in the next four years.

Senior Minister and first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) Ly Thuch said on January 4 that he was confident that CMAC’s plan was a major step towards achieving the government’s goal of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.

All demining operators working in Cambodia also have their own plans of action to participate in the implementation of this goal successfully by 2025’s end, he noted.

Thuch thanked all the donor nations who continued to focus their efforts on helping Cambodia despite the Covid-19 crisis. He said that the CMAA is also looking for new partners in the private sector to get involved in the humanitarian field of demining.

“We plan to clear the villages that are threatened by the remnants of war and in each village we will want to have a private company named as the sponsor supporting that demining project,” he said.

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