Minister of Interior Sar Kheng offered encouragement to an inter-ministerial team tasked with addressing the issue of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in rivers, saying their efforts will enable people to safely use the waterways for travel and the transporting of goods.

At a meeting held to review the progress in clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) from rivers and recovering sunken ships laden with munitions, Sar Kheng said the team is determined to not leave explosives on riverbeds.

After the team had raised challenges at the meeting, Sar Kheng said he and other leaders would work hard to address them to ensure operations run as effectively as possible.

“We have set the goal of completely clearing munitions left underwater from the periods of civil war for the safety of people, and the ease of navigation and other activities on the rivers,” Sar Kheng said.

Neang Phat, secretary of state at the Ministry of National Defence who heads the team, said operations to determine locations and carry out searches for munitions had been carried out every day with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and other stakeholders.

"The team had recovered more than 1,000 munitions equalling over 18 tonnes as of August 5.

"All officials had braved every difficulty and dared to make every sacrifice to fulfil the mission despite not yet having a budget package to fully support the operations," he said.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said operations had been conducted in Koh Chek commune’s Koh Peam Raing village of Prey Veng province’s Peam Chor district, covering 268ha, with 197ha of high-risk areas and 71ha of moderate risk.

"The clearance of UXO is a main task of the government to respond to national and international obligations. The clearance of these munitions is important in strengthening national security and providing people with security, as well as for national economic development,” Ratana said.