THE German government on Wednesday pledged US$1.4 million for humanitarian demining projects to be carried out this year in Oddar Meanchey and Siem Reap provinces, which are among the Kingdom’s more mine-affected regions.
At a signing ceremony, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodian Mine Action Centre Demining Unit 6 could use the funding to clear 400 hectares of land, work he said would benefit more than 700 families.
Germany has been sponsoring the unit since 1999. In a press release, the German embassy said the unit was “among the best” in the Kingdom “in terms of qualification, security and output”.
“For years the work of CMAC DU 6 has always been most exemplary and cost-effective,” the statement said.
Koy Kuong said the German government has granted roughly $10 million – $9 million in cash and $1 million in materials – for demining projects in the last decade.
In December, parties to the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty formally approved Cambodia’s request to push back the deadline for clearing all antipersonnel mines by 10 years, though the government’s formal extension request asserted that “current productivity levels will not be sufficient” to meet the revised goal.
The government has estimated that 648.8 square kilometres of land still need to be cleared, although this figure has not been backed up by technical research.
The most recent “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects” report from the UN found that the mine action community was facing a 74-percent funding shortfall for 2010, which some observers said was the product of both the economic crisis and donor fatigue.