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Kingdom ‘needs $406M to be mine-free by 2025’

Members of Cambodian Mine Action Center search for mines using a metal detector on the K5 mine belt in Battambang province. Cambodia says it needs $403 million in order to clear the land of explosive remnants of war by 2025.
Members of Cambodian Mine Action Center search for mines using a metal detector on the K5 mine belt in Battambang province. Cambodia says it needs $403 million in order to clear the land of explosive remnants of war by 2025. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom ‘needs $406M to be mine-free by 2025’

Cambodia reiterated on Wednesday, International Mine Awareness Day, that it needs $406 million to be mine-free by 2025.

According to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), of which Prime Minister Hun Sen is the president, Cambodia needs the millions to clear nearly 2,000 square kilometres of land known to be blighted by landmines and remnants of war, in a bid to make Cambodia “mine-free” by 2025.

Cambodia had previously told China the amount needed to clear the country of mines, which China said it would consider. The Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to a request for comment.

CMAA’s first vice president, Ly Thuch, said the funding gap included $194 million for clearing landmines, $121 million for cluster munitions and another $39 million for explosive war remnants. Another $52 million will be required for management of the sector, as well as $600,000 for a baseline survey.

Thuch said he was “optimistic” about reaching those goals. “If we have enough financial resources and human resources, then we can meet our goal.”

A report from Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining in 2016 – before the formulation of the new 2018-2025 action plan – found that Cambodia’s demining efforts were not on track to meet the deadline.

Cambodia was hit by a heavy US bombing campaign during the Vietnam War. Following the Khmer Rouge regime, an explosive belt of landmines was laid by the Vietnamese-backed government as part of the K5 project in a bid to cut off Khmer Rouge guerrilla infiltration during the 1980s.

Norwegian People’s Aid Country Director Aksel Steen-Nilsen said not all of the $406 million is for clearing.

“From NPA perspective we would encourage Cambodian government to step up its monetary contribution towards the clearance of landmines towards 2025 to show its commitment towards reaching this goal,” he said in a message, adding NPA would assist with demining.

“All the goals are based on estimates, so very difficult to predict if they can achieve a mine-free Cambodia by 2025. Donor fatigue will of course also play in and influence on achieving the target.”

CMAA said that between 1992 and 2017, 1,680 square kilometres had been cleared, involving over 1 million anti-personnel mines, more than 24,600 anti-tank mines, and more than 2.7 million other explosive remnants of war. The number of casualties from exploding ordnance had also dropped from 4,320 in 1996 to 58 in 2017.

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