In the first 11 months of this year, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has cooperated with National Police forces to educate nearly 1.2 million people about mine accidents and explosive remnants of war.
CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said CMAC and National Police forces had visited almost 600,000 households to educate them about mine-related accidents.
“In collaboration with them [National Police], we have made 38 per cent more home visits this year than we did last year.
“We have expanded the education to new target areas such as Veal Veng [district] of Pursat province as well as Stung Treng, Preah Vihear and Tbong Khmum provinces,” he said.
Ratana said that as a result, authorities responded to over 6,000 urgent requests by people and the forces cleared nearly 10,000 explosive remnants of war.
Cooperative activities to implement this national policy are not only measures to prevent accidents of mines and explosive remnants of war, but also a contribution to strengthening national security, he said.
He added that in the first 11 months of this year, CMAC forces had collected over 41,000 unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war. Most of them had been destroyed, except for some big mines that were neutralised.
As a result, people had learned more about mine accidents. They have been providing accurate information to the authorities for demining forces.
“The attitude of [most] people has changed in some way. Upon seeing UXOs, they marked the sign of danger. They have stopped pounding or throwing them, which can cause danger.
“But there are still some who have turned a blind eye on [the authorities’ education effort]. They are still not afraid of the mines,” he said.
On the 21st anniversary of National Mine Awareness Day on February 24, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged relevant institutions and the authorities at all levels to continue disseminating information on mine accidents, cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war regularly through the so-called safe villages/communes policy to the people.
He also stressed on the need to strengthen law enforcement on explosive weapons and ammunition control.
Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said awareness raising and removing or destroying the remaining ordnance in villages and communes were necessary to protect the safety of people.
“Educating people about mine accidents [is to urge] people to refrain from taking explosive remnants of war and UXOs for use in day-to-day work, because they would put their lives in danger,” he said.
Chanroeun called on the authorities to educate people about mine accidents more extensively.
He urged the authorities to not discriminate or engage in corrupt practices when receiving a report by the people about UXO or other explosives.
He said the authorities must visit the location and remove or destroy the explosives carefully.