The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and representatives of the Japan Working Group have agreed to launch a number of priority projects, including the clearing of landmines from part of Battambang province and assistance to mine victims through a socio-economic integration programme with a budget of around $17 million.

Heng Ratana, director-general of CMAC, told The Post that on April 22 he met online with Japanese embassy officials, a representative of the Japanese government and officials of the Japanese Consulting Agency (JCA) in Tokyo for the first time as the Advisory Committee for the Integrated Demining and Rescue Project for the Disabled Phase II to discuss the demining project.

“I co-chaired the first meeting with the participation of officials from the Japanese embassy and officials from the JCA in Tokyo to review and decide upon the action plan to be implemented for the project,” he said, adding that although some of the committee members are in Tokyo and some are in Phnom Penh, the virtual meetings and discussions went smoothly.

He said the second phase of the integrated Mine Clearance and Relief Project has a budget of two billion yen ($17 million) which will be implemented over a four-year period from 2022-2025.

The three main goals are clearing land affected by landmines in Battambang province, buying demining equipment and spare parts and assisting mine victims through socio-economic integration.

At the meeting, the working group examined the objectives of the project’s implementation and some other priority tasks, as well as the overall operational process.

“Among the projects we have agreed on, we plan to clear 9,454ha of land affected by landmines in Battambang province over a period of four years from 2022-2025,” he said.

According to Ratana, CMAC is now 30 years old and has cleared more than 1,569sq km of minefields and discovered and destroyed 554,261 anti-personnel mines, 11,223 anti-tank mines and other unexploded ordnance including 1,909,795 bombs dropped from aircraft such as 428,680 cluster munitions and 87 chemical bombs. A total of 119,728 emergency response requests have also been answered in the organisation’s history.

“Apart from CMAC’s core work in clearing mines and unexploded ordnance, as well as contributing to the government’s development plans, I always look to help people with developing rural areas. In particular, helping to develop land that has been cleared of mines and helping people with disabilities from landmines by building schools and health centres, digging wells and ponds, providing agricultural skills training and helping to develop rural physical infrastructure such as gravel roads and irrigation systems,” Ratana said.