The Australian Embassy has accepted an award from the Cambodian government in recognition of that country’s long-standing support for demining in the Kingdom.
Australian Ambassador to Cambodia Angela Corcoran received the Golden Cross of the Royal Order of Sahametrei medal from Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, the embassy said in a press release.
Corcoran said: “I am pleased that the Cambodian Government recognises the important role Australia has played in supporting landmine clearing in Cambodia for the past 25 years.
“When we first commenced our demining work in Cambodia, more than 4,000 people were being killed each year in landmine accidents. Australia’s assistance has helped bring that number down to 58 casualties last year.”
“The Australian Government’s support for demining in Cambodia commenced in 1994 and had involved financial contributions totalling more than A$100 million ($68.45 million),” said an official press release.
Since 2006, Australia has been partnering with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) to clear mine-contaminated land and raise community awareness about the risks of landmines.
Through this partnership, over 239sq km had been cleared and released to local communities for farming.
Senior Minister Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the CMAA told The Post on Monday that, besides helping mine clearance and victims, Australia supported strengthening the capacity of mine officials and formulating Cambodia’s national strategic plan for demining.
“Australia is a long-standing partner of Cambodia and has supported work in the mine clearing sector for years.
“We are thankful for Australian compassion and sympathy for Cambodians who suffered from the war. [On Monday] morning, Samdech [Prime Minister Hun Sen] also gave thanks to Australia, which supports Cambodia in the mine-clearing sector,” said Thuch.
Speaking at the Mine-Free World Fourth Review Conference on November 26, in Oslo, Norway, Ly Thuch said that after a quarter of a century of implementing humanitarian mine action, Cambodia is still facing extensive problems.
“However, we are committed to rendering Cambodia mine-free by 2025. Going forward, it is essential that we continue to work together to reach this noble objective, not only for our own countries but a mine-free world,” he said.
A statement from Cambodia on victim assistance at the World Fourth Review Conference on Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention said the 58 casualties recorded last year were still too many.
It said the Kingdom remained committed to reducing this number to zero, with the support of the international community.
There is a real danger that casualties will increase as a result of the growing population and also people moving, through necessity, into new areas and being unaware of the risks.
“Also, our database shows that 806 sq km is the current magnitude of the landmine problem, posing a greater danger to our people.
“Therefore, continued support and assistance from all development partners remain vital for Cambodia to address these challenges,” the statement said.