The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) will send two specialised animal handling officers on a mission to train demining dogs in Turkey for 10 months this year.
The mission will be held in collaboration with and supported by Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnede Product Ontwikkeling (APOPO) – the Dutch international demining organisation.
CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on February 1 that this was the second time that CMAC had sent experts to Turkey. He said that over the years, Cambodian experts have also been sent to several other countries, including Colombia and the Central African Republic on a number of occasions.
Ratana stated that sending personnel to Turkey in collaboration with APOPO to train demining dogs was an operation organised under humanitarian efforts and they will be working in areas that are safe and not related to any current wars or post-war dangers.
He praised CMAC experts who went on missions abroad in the past where they had the opportunity to impart their knowledge while gaining experience in the field and not just providing classroom lectures or professional knowledge.
According to Ratana, Cambodia is very proud to have demining experts who are able to help in any country or region that needs demining assistance to clear the area quickly for humanitarian work and to help protect the lives of people and restore nations to peace and safety.
“We are here to help with knowledge. We are not directly carrying out the demining operations but we share our knowledge with countries like ours so that they can clear their mines quickly. We meet with foreign officials from time to time and we are happy that they consider our assistance an important factor and they ask us for more help,” he said.
According to Ratana, the work abroad is not only out of Cambodia’s self-interest or to build the prestige of the organisation, but also to contribute to the positive reputation and building a positive and compassionate national culture for the Kingdom that champions providing assistance to those in need.
APOPO and CMAC on December 16 last year signed a memorandum of understanding for 2022 on cooperation to continue APOPO’s animal tracking system for inclusion in CMAC’s demining activities.
CMAC and APOPO have been collaborating since 2016 and have successfully integrated animals into investigations and demining operations in Cambodia.
Mine-sniffing animals have increased their productivity in mine detection and cleared many hectares of land and gave them back to the community in a safe and efficient way.
In early 2021, APOPO ordered six demining dogs from CMAC to help clear mines in South Sudan. The organisation is also preparing to order more animals to participate in humanitarian demining work abroad, especially along the Turkish-Iraqi border.