The leadership of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and a delegation from Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in Cambodia met on December 6 to discuss fundraising for the clearing of cluster bombs, as the munitions continue to threaten people’s lives on about 700sq km of the Kingdom’s land.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana met with NPA adviser Eva Veble and NPA resident representative Rune Dale-Andresen on December 6 to discuss the work.

Ratana said the main focus of the discussion was on strengthening cooperation in the mine action sector and cluster bomb clearance. They were aiming to improve aid management mechanisms, which the US government provides to CMAC through the NPA.

“At the meeting, we discussed the $6.5 million in aid which the NPA received from other countries, especially the US. The NPA provided these funds to CMAC to allow us to conduct operations for the next three years. We talked about funding management and sought to increase funding levels to allow us to increase the amount of work we can carry out,” he added.

He continued that the more than $6 million provided will be used for 45 months, from 2022 to late 2025. CMAC received $1.6 million for the clearance of cluster bombs.

“This aid will help CMAC join the government in accelerating the clearing of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines. We have cleared nearly 100sq km of cluster bombs in over 45 months – so we can clear roughly 30sq km a year,” he said.

Ratana added that cluster bombs remained on over 700sq km of land, a greater area than that covered by minefields. The US assistance went toward the clearance of cluster munitions that were largely dropped by the US during the Indo-Sino-US wars 50 years ago. The bombs continued to endanger the lives of humans and animals.

Since 2009, the US has provided nearly $30 million in aid to CMAC through the NPA. Thanks to this funding, over 22,200ha of land has been cleared. CMAC has detected and destroyed 221,793 individual UXOs and 1,304,260 people have been educated about the dangers posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war.