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Sniffer dogs to swoop down on 4 localities for ‘mine-free 2025’

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CMAC demining teams prepare for operations under the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025’ project. CMAC

Sniffer dogs to swoop down on 4 localities for ‘mine-free 2025’

Demining operators from the Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation are preparing to carry out operations in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Pursat and Pailin provinces after plans have been signed off by the national-level authorities.

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) lauded the upcoming deployments, which feature the use of Cambodian-trained mine detection dogs.

Hun Manet, deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), and Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), signed a mine clearance contract on January 26.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana called on local authorities to cooperate with the demining teams.

“Funding for the Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 project has been approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen. We intend to clear [180sq km] of minefields in Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces and several districts of Preah Vihear, Pursat and Pailin provinces. Almost 600 staff members are involved, including 13 dog teams, 21 platoons of specialised equipment operators and 36 search and clearance teams,” he said.

He added that he was especially proud of the dog teams, as they had been trained entirely within Cambodia, without the assistance of foreign consultants. The Kingdom now has over 200 mine detection dogs.

“We trained them on our own, in the spirit of the ‘Khmer can do it’ slogan. We were even able to teach dogs to detect Covid-19, thank to our excellent training programmes,” he said.

“In contrast, Afghanistan has trained dogs, but they were bred in Germany and trained with foreign assistance. Our breeding and training programme has produced many dogs which are already working in the field,” he added.

The injection of $30 million from the national budget into the mine-free 2025 fund will be managed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and used to support the work of three teams.

Demining operators from the RCAF are set to demine around 46.8sq km in Phnom Sruoch district of Kampong Speu province, Svay Chek district of Banteay Meanchey province, and Samrong district of Oddar Meanchey province.

Peacekeeping forces will clear around 27.1sq km in Snuol district of Kratie province, Kiri Sakor and Koh Kong districts of Koh Kong province, and parts of Mondulkiri province.

CMAC will demine around 106.3sq km in Kampong Thom, Pailin, Preah Vihear, Pursat and Siem Reap provinces.

Ly Thuch said at the signing ceremony that with the support of the mine-free 2025 fund, 411sq km would be cleared this year.

“By the end of the year, we will declare Phnom Penh and 17 provinces mine-free. The remaining seven provinces – Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear – will be completely demined by 2025,” he added.

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