Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), expressed optimism while meeting a visiting senior US official that Cambodia will be able to achieve its 2025 mine-free goal on schedule.
Thuch met with Ethan Rinks – programme manager at the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) for East Asia and the Pacific, under the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at US Department of State – at the CMAA headquarters on January 19.
According to the CMAA, Thuch, on behalf of Prime Minister Hun Sen, thanked the government and the people of the US for supporting mine clearance in Cambodia for over 30 years.
The Cambodian government has pursued decades-long effort to resolve the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the country and has now laid out a clear strategic plan to finish the mine clearance work by 2025.
“We are optimistic and hopeful that Cambodia will be able to achieve its 2025 mine-free goal. In addition to this demining work, cluster munitions clearance is the second priority goal as Cambodia has about 735sq km suspected of having cluster munitions,” Thuch said.
Thuch also requested that the US government continue to support the mine clearance work and add funds to pursue cluster munitions clearance.
Rinks noted that the WRA programme has been engaged in the clearing of landmines and ERWs in the region and throughout the world.
“Over 30 years, we have helped Cambodia with about $190 million for mine clearance work and ERWs. The US will also continue to help Cambodia until it is free of mines in 2025,” he was quoted as saying.
Rinks said he appreciated that the Cambodian government is prioritising mine and ERW clearance work and he thanked them for their cooperation and partnership.
Thuch said that to achieve the “Cambodia Mine-Free 2025” vision, mines in 648sq km of land across the country need to be cleared.
He added that the CMAA, in collaboration with local and international demining operators, have made a plan to start clearing the landmines because the CMAA needs to completely demine every village, commune, district and province to declare Cambodia mine-free by 2025.