Development partners and “friendly” countries have been key in charting the way forward for local demining efforts and inspiring new hopes and dreams as the government’s goal of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025 draws ever nearer, said a senior official.
Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), made the remarks during a meeting with the Demining Project Steering Committee of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on January 16 in Siem Reap.
The meeting – organised by the UK-based demining operator HALO Trust – was attended by SDC director Markus Buerli, HALO Trust director Miles Hawthorn, German ambassador to Cambodia Stefan Messerer and his UK counterpart Dominic Williams.
Thuch thanked all partners for their help with mine clearance over the years and credited Prime Minister Hun Sen’s win-win policy for establishing a peaceful environment where a goal like a mine-free Cambodia 2025 is now within reach.
“At the meeting, I informed the development partners about the government’s demining plan to complete the remaining 648 square kilometres of demining work and declare a Mine-Free Cambodia by 2025.
“The government, through the CMAA, has set out a clear demining plan in collaboration with development partners, national and international demining operators and all stakeholders,” he said.
According to Thuch, by the end of 2023, they plan to have cleared another 237sq km of mine-laden land, with an estimate that the operation will require up to $70 million.
“It is clear that 2022 was a big year. Thirty years of humanitarian mine action have addressed key challenges and achieved remarkable results that come from innovation, commitment and practising the lessons learned,” he said.
He added that the team will continue to learn and apply it not only in the country but also across borders, with Cambodia having shared its experiences around the world.