British ambassador to Cambodia Dominic Williams reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting mine action in Cambodia, during a meeting with Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) last week.

Williams indicated that the UK is set to approve financial assistance for 2024-25. The aid package will encompass contributions to the Hazardous Area Life-support Organisation (HALO Trust) and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

Thuch praised the enduring relationship and cooperation between the two countries in various sectors including trade, foreign affairs, environment, education and health, with a particular emphasis on ordnance removal.

“The UK has been assisting [us] since 1998. Over 160sq km of land has been cleared, and 67,590 landmines and 47,788 unexploded ordnances [UXO] have been detected and destroyed,” he said.

On behalf of the government and the people, Thuch expressed profound gratitude to the UK for its continued support.

Williams commended the CMAA for facilitating the process.

“In alignment with the Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 goal, we have prepared a budget to support operations over the next two years,” he said, adding that the package is awaiting formal approval in November.

Seun Sam, a policy analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, highlighted the UK’s focus on strengthening relations with developing countries, particularly through aid initiatives aimed at alleviating suffering and fostering well-being.

“The administration and the people of the nation hold a positive view of the UK. The English language curriculum and other educational assistance from them are highly valued. Thus, this demining assistance is significant both in humanitarian terms and in reinforcing diplomacy,” Sam noted.

He added that the bilateral relations between the countries have a 70-year history, surpassing that of most other countries, and while trade volume has remained limited, their assistance continues to be crucial.

On a related note, An Sothea, chief of the 4th Mine Action Unit, reported that specialists from the Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) are currently working on clearing over 500ha of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in Siem Reap province’s Srei Snam district, with 25 per cent of the land already cleared. The operation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024.