Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mine-free 2025 deadline looms as private donors pour millions into clearance efforts

Mine-free 2025 deadline looms as private donors pour millions into clearance efforts

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Ly Thuch, senior minister and first vice-president of Cambodian Mine Action Assistance (CMAA), said at a press conference on July 7. FN

Mine-free 2025 deadline looms as private donors pour millions into clearance efforts

Ly Thuch, senior minister and first vice-president of Cambodian Mine Action Assistance (CMAA), said at a press conference on July 7 that to date the government has raised more than $15 million in donations from the private sector along with over 190 million riel to fund demining activities in Cambodia.

“Cambodia has ambitions to be completely mine-free by 2025 and to do that we have to clear 716 sq km of land that has yet to be completed. This demining work is considered by Prime Minister Hun Sen to be one of the top priorities for our nation,” he said.

Over the past 30 years Cambodia has cleared more than 2,600 sq km of landmine fields and located and destroyed more than 26,000 anti-tank mines along with over one million anti-personnel landmines and more than three million other explosive remnants of war (ERW).

Ly Thuch said that Cambodia must tackle the job of clearing the remaining 1991 sq km of land where landmines and unexploded ordnance are known to be located, which also includes the presence of cluster munitions and other ERW.

“If we think only of landmines, we have about 716 sq km of minefields left, which is a very large area. We have an ambition to complete demining operations by 2025, however, and we’re working very hard at it. We have about 2,600 demining operators working in the field and fully half of them are women.

“Sadly, we’ve also lost around 200 deminers during clearing operations over the years due to accidents or unexpected detonations,” he said.

He said the challenge of achieving the goal of making Cambodia mine-free was a task that first required additional funding past what is currently allocated by donors and the government because every sq metre of minefields they clear has a calculable cost to it.

“Our immediate plan is to use the money from the donors to completely demine three provinces – Tbong Khmum, Takeo and Kampot. These can be declared mine-free in the near future,” he said.

Thuch added that in the not-too-distant future, the CMAA will need more demining operators from abroad including private companies to join in the work in order to make the 2025 goal.

Speaking during a meeting with the ASEAN Para Games athletes on July 6, Hun Sen said that by contributing to the fund, donors will be participating in the national movement to demine Cambodia which will promote development and modernization while also being the best way to honour the memory of the many Cambodians who have been maimed or killed by landmines.

“We must build a national movement for a mine-free Cambodia by 2025. We have another three years left to go to accomplish this task, which is a lot less time than you’d think given the complexities.

“But we trust the CMAA will come up with a plausible plan for completing the removal of landmines and explosives from our country in that short period,” he said.

Cambodia has already declared three provinces – Kep, Prey Veng and Stung Treng – totally mine-free. This leaves the capital and 21 provinces in need of clearance or a careful review and verification of cleared status within the next few years.

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