The Indian embassy and the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on August 31, approving $425,000 in funding for a vital mine clearing project which encompasses four districts in Koh Kong province.

The signing ceremony, dedicated to the ‘Mine Free Villages in Koh Kong Province,’ took place in Koh Kong. The event was presided over by Ly Thuch, senior minister and first vice-president of the CMAA, Indian ambassador Devyani Khobragade, and Koh Kong provincial governor Phouthong Mithona, along with other senior officials.

A statement released by the CMAA explained that the project has received financial backing from the Indian government, as part of a collaborative effort with the CMAA.

“With the support of the Indian government, the CMAA has prepared a plan to clear mines in Botum Sakor, Sre Ambel, Thma Bang, and Koh Kong districts, covering a total land area of 1,972,091sq m, comprising 33 minefields, with a total budget of $426,709,” it said.

It highlighted that the initiative aims to transform these four districts into mine-free zones, directly benefiting a population of more than 20,000 families, made up of more than 85,000 individuals.

The demining efforts in Koh Kong are expected to create a safer environment, encouraging increased investment and facilitating the security of tourists visiting the natural attractions within the province.

The statement also underscored the significance of mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) clearance as a priority task.

It received strong support and attention from Prime Minister Hun Manet, who reiterated his commitment to improving the living conditions of the people. The statement noted that he inherited this important mission from former Prime Minister Hun Sen.

India has previously provided financial assistance for mine clearing efforts in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor district. In addition, India provided prosthetic limbs to 550 individuals with disabilities resulting from landmines and ERWs in Banteay Meanchey province.

According to a report by the CMAA, in the first six months of the year, a total of 215sq km were cleared. Within this area, 12,296 anti-personnel mines, 87 anti-tank mines, and 31,307 unexploded ordnances were discovered and disposed of.

The CMAA has set the declaration of Kampong Speu, Kratie, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Mondulkiri, and Ratanakkiri provinces as mine-free zones as its goals for this year.