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Japan may slash funds for clearing land mines

Japan may slash funds for clearing land mines

THE Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) has expressed concern over a proposed 50 percent cut from Japan's annual aid contribution to clear land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in Cambodia.

The proposed cut would take effect in 2009.  

Khem Sophoan, director general of CMAC told the Post Wednesday that the Japanese contribution is US$1.2 million, adding that 350 deminers would lose their jobs if the funds are slashed, leaving 300 hectares of land in northwestern Cambodia uncleared.

Heng Ratana, deputy director general of CMAC, told the Post Wednesday that "no decision has yet been made. The donor has given us time to lobby before the embassy marks the red line to cut off half of their aid to us".

He added that negotiations were intensive and the stakes high.

"If the aid is halved it will drastically affect the activities of CMAC," he said.

Khem Sophoan said a funding cut would be a disappointment, as significant progress was being made in the sector.

"We found that the number of casualties as a result of land minds and UXOs has decreased from 50 to 100 per month between the years 2000 and 2005, to only 18 in July this year," he said.

Despite the possible cut, Japan announced an $884,955 aid grant to the NGO Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) in collaboration with CMAC on Tuesday, which will be put to use in Kandal, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham and Kampong Speu provinces, where many accidents still occur from uncleared UXOs. 

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