Phak Seangly and Will Baxter
The Cambodian Mine Action Centre announced it has commenced a one-year project to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance from areas in Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces.
“With this project we will clear the land, and then provide it back to the local authorities who will distribute it to the people,” CMAC spokeswoman Nem Sowathey said yesterday.
CMAC’s demining efforts were linked closely with development, she said, making mined land available for agriculture use and the construction of wells, roads and canals.
The US$1.5 million project, which is being funded by the Japanese government, officially got under way on November 2, she said.
In a statement on Friday, CMAC said the project was aiming to clear 10..5 million square metres of contaminated land, and would benefit about 5,500 families.
“We are partnering with the commune councils to ensure all activities implemented are based on the demand of the local villagers,” Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC, said in the statement.
He added that the project’s coordinators had specifically chosen “contaminated villages and land officially allocated to poor people for resettlement and agriculture use”.
Preah Vihear deputy governor Suy Serith said yesterday that CMAC’s demining efforts were “very good” for the local people, adding that CMAC would be clearing land in Choam Ksan district on the Thai border, the most heavily mined area of his province.
About 223 people in Cambodia were reported killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war in the first nine months of this year, according to the Cambodian Mine Action Authority.