The UK government announced its commitment to provide over $21 million in new funding to the UK’s Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and the HALO Trust (HALO), aimed to support mine clearance and community education in eight countries across Africa and Asia, with $3.8 million earmarked for demining efforts in Cambodia.

Other countries benefiting from the initiative include Angola, Ethiopia, Laos, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. 

According to a February 20 press release from the British embassy, the contributions to the organisations will impact over half a million people. This includes the delivery of more than 34,000 in-person explosive ordnance risk education sessions.

British ambassador to Cambodia Dominic Williams said that for over 30 years, UK funding has backed the heroic endeavours of both Cambodian and international deminers in clearing land for productive use, safeguarding communities and saving lives.

“I am delighted that the UK is committing an additional $3.8 million to support the Cambodian government’s aim of achieving a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025. The UK government, along with British humanitarian demining organisations like [HALO] and MAG, stands as one of Cambodia’s most enduring allies in mine clearance efforts,” he stated.

The funding will facilitate ongoing work in some of the world’s most heavily mined regions, including Cambodia and Laos, as well as in some of the poorest countries like South Sudan and Somalia. The support is expected to continue until March 2025, as per the press release.

It highlighted that the funding would also foster new opportunities for women in countries such as Angola, Cambodia and Laos, noting this would be achieved through enhanced employment and career advancement in the demining sector, supported by continual investment in staff training.

HALO reported a significant presence in Cambodia, employing over 1,200 staff with an equal gender distribution among demining personnel. Over the past decade, the proportion of female staff in senior management positions has risen to 42 per cent.

In the press release, the trust also shared some sobering statistics: since 1979, over 65,000 casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been recorded in the Kingdom, which has one of the highest amputee rates globally.

However, three decades of clearance work have markedly reduced accidents from a peak of 4,320 in 1996 to 32 in 2023.