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CMAC on track despite pandemic

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CMAC uncover and retrieve 11 UXOs in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district on August 11. CMAC

CMAC on track despite pandemic

In the first seven months of this year, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) had cleared a total of 64,562,539sqm, or about 98.60 per cent of the seven-month plan for 2021.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said on August 30 that the operations to clear land of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) during this period had taken place smoothly and produced good results.

During the operations, CMAC detected and destroyed a total of 31,665 landmines and 8,997units of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

During the seven-month period, CMAC continued to mobilise assistance and undertook 43 projects, of which 23 were underway, 10 were under negotiation and four were expected to begin.

“The financial situation [of CMAC] in the first seven months of 2021 allowed operations to continue and did not affect operating forces, although some projects had been delayed,” Ratana said.

Ratana could not be reached for further comment on September 1.

Sam Vireak, the head of CMAC’s Banteay Meanchey province branch, told The Post on September 1 that if the unit had not yet cleared UXO from an area and marked them as safe, people could not grow crops there or make a prosperous life because they were scared of the danger.

“CMAC will inform people when we have cleared an area. If not, we would never say the land is safe for them to use,” he said.

Vireak added that demining in the province was running smoothly and according to the planned 500ha per year.

He said that currently, CMAC’s Banteay Meanchey branch has initiated mine clearance operations in four districts bordering Thailand – Svay Chek, Thma Puok, Malai and O’Chrov – and in Poipet town. These areas are still not completely safe.

Vireak said the government’s plan was to have demining completed by 2025, though there was still work that had not been fully researched. CMAC is also searching for underwater explosives every day. There are also many chemical weapons dropped by the US Air Force in the 1970s that remained uncollected, he said.

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