Prime Minister Hun Sen requested demining aid from the Chinese military to help the Kingdom meet its ambitious goal of a mine-free Cambodia 2025. He said accelerating mine action would help prevent further casualties and would provide more safe ground for the people of Cambodia.

“I want to accelerate the clearance of the remaining mines. When I met with the Chinese Minister of Defence, I not only requested demining aid, but suggested that he deploy Chinese military personnel to support our deminers as they work to make the Kingdom mine-free by 2025,” he said, while presiding over a December 26 ceremony marking the official start of an upgrade of National Road 41, in Kampot province.

“This will avoid further unnecessary casualties among our people and will provide safe ground for them to cultivate crops,” he added.

Hun Sen recalled one of the main goals he had set himself following his win-win policy. He would turn former battle fields into developed zones and ensure that the border areas of the Kingdom would be places of peace, cooperation and development.

“I consider my first goal – turning battlefields into developed zones – 95 per cent complete. The areas that needed to be cleared of landmines by 2025 represent the remaining 5 per cent,” he said.

Hun Sen added that this is in line with his party’s strategy policy 2023-2028. In January, the Cambodian People’s Party will hold a congress to approve several policies for its next mandate.

Regarding the transformation of border areas, he felt this had been largely achieved. The once densely mined battle fields of these parts of the Kingdom were now largely places where goods were traded between countries, he added.

Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said China has been contributing to mine clearance in Cambodia for many years. He hoped it would continue to provide its support, so the Kingdom could accomplish Hun Sen’s vision of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.

“China has previously supported us through financial assistance, training, and equipment. For that, we thank them. On behalf of the more than 1 million people living in areas still infected with explosive remnants of war, we thank the prime minister for his request. We are pleased that he has requested China’s help with mine action,” he added.

According to the CMAA, since work began in 1992, a total of 124.7sq km has been cleared of landmines and UXOs. A total of 84,188 landmines, 32,171 cluster bombs, and other 288,049 other explosive remnants have been found and destroyed, benefiting more than two million people.