More than $13.5 million has been donated to the Cambodian government by the private sector to assist with efforts to make the Kingdom landmine-free by 2025 after Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed for additional funding on July 1, a move which earned the praise of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia.
“UNDP in Cambodia congratulates the Royal Government of Cambodia on mobiliding vital funds from the private sector and the Cambodian Red Cross to support landmine clearance, as announced on July 1, 2022,” it said in statement on July 2.
During a speech marking the 20th National Fish Day on July 1, Hun Sen called on the public to contribute donations for landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance to achieve the goal of a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025.
“In response to my appeal, investors and business people have so far contributed more than $5 million. I hoped that more contributions will come in so that our poor country can finally make the tragedy of landmines a thing of the past,” Hun Sen said.
Seng Tieng, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers tasked with receiving the donations, told The Post that as of July 3 more than $12 million had been donated by about 20 companies. Government spokesman Phay Siphan updated the figure to $13.5 million later on that day.
During the event, Hun Sen suggested that Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth consider including expenses for landmine clearance in the national budget for 2023-2024 in order to achieve the goal of a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025.
He also said that funding to clear Cambodia’s remaining landmines must be included in the national budget for some parts of the Kingdom.
“Kep has already been declared a landmine-free province. For some other places, just $50,000 is required [to clear the remaining landmines], but we still need to request it from foreign donors. Now we should include funding in our national budget in order to finish mine clearance in some places that are almost landmine-free and can be dealt with by deminers from CMAC and other operators,” he said, referring to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre.
Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said earlier this year that Cambodia still has to clear nearly 800sq km of its territory to make the country entirely landmine-free by 2025.
The UNDP said Mine Action is more than just clearing contaminated land – it is about the people, society and their prospects for a dignified and prosperous life.
The UNDP stated that throughout Cambodia, almost one million people are still at risk from landmines due to living and working in contaminated areas where landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill, injure and traumatise communities, which severely impedes the country’s recovery and development and constrains options for the pursuit of livelihoods in rural communities.
“Under the leadership of CMAA – tasked by the government to manage the funds – this support will accelerate the humanitarian-development-peace nexus by removing landmines that compromise socio-economic and psycho-social wellbeing and return safe land to communities for productive use, thus creating pathways for recovery efforts which enable social, economic and environmental benefits,” the statement said.
The UN body said they stand ready to continue supporting the government and CMAA in its efforts, expressing hope that Cambodia’s experience and practices in landmine clearance can be shared during the celebration of “30 years of Mine Action in Cambodia”, alongside upcoming regional and global events planned for this year on mine action.
“UNDP urges the continued participation of development partners and the private sector as key actors in national development, in the pursuit of a Mine-Free 2025, the 2030 Agenda and the imperative to Leave No One Behind,” the statement said, referring to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Some foreign embassies also congratulated Hun Sen for quickly and effectively mobilising this funding. India’s embassy in Cambodia tweeted that it stands with Cambodia in carrying out this humanitarian work to make the Kingdom free of landmines.