Nearly three million landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) were found and destroyed by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) in the last 30 years, with nearly 2,000sq km cleared. This amounts to 75 per cent of the total area cleared across the Kingdom.
Commemorating National Mine Awareness Day on February 24, CMAC director-general Heng Ratana noted that CMAC, which turned 30 years old this year, had earned a great deal of hard-won experience in dealing with UXOs and anti-personnel landmines during this period.
“There were between 4-6 million cluster bombs dropped from aircraft, which consist of 30 million smaller bombs, weighing about 2.78 tonnes. This figure excludes other kinds of UXOs,” Ratana said.
He said that in 2021, CMAC had organised awareness raising events which reached more than half a million households, and the messages had directly spread to more than 1.2 million people. This year, the organisation planned to increase its campaign and hope to reach 1.6 million people.
“The activities that CMAC carries out consist of educational messaging, assistance to victims of mines, demining operations and community development after clearance -- all of these are integrated into the government’s socio-economic plan,” he said.
Cambodia is one of 133 signatories to the Ottawa Treaty, which is committed to its strategic goal of a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025, though the clearance of other kinds of UXOs will take more time.
“Based on government plans, CMAC launched a four-year strategic plan in 2022 to clear more than 700sq km of the 800sq km which are recorded as being contaminated by anti-personnel mines. This equates to about 90 per cent of the remaining area,” he said.