Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US has new plan for UXO removal in Cambodia after cutting CMAC funding

US has new plan for UXO removal in Cambodia after cutting CMAC funding

Prime Minister Hun Sen points at unexploded US bombs unearthed by CMAC officials at an event earlier this year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen points at unexploded US bombs unearthed by CMAC officials at an event earlier this year. Facebook

US has new plan for UXO removal in Cambodia after cutting CMAC funding

One day after it was revealed that the United States would discontinue funding for the Cambodian government’s explosives removal body, the US Embassy said it would fund a separate “world-class removal program” in the eastern part of the country, following a competitive bidding process.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) Director General Heng Ratana said yesterday that the government would fill the $2 million annual funding gap left by the US withdrawal and continue its ongoing programme.

Though the US Embassy did not address the reasons for pulling its assistance to CMAC, relations between the two governments have been strained, with Prime Minister Hun Sen accusing the US of fomenting an alleged “revolution”, and repeatedly invoking America’s war legacy in the country in his criticism.

“We will use 2018 resources to put in place a world-class removal program targeting US-origin UXO in eastern Cambodia,” said deputy embassy spokesman David Josar via email.

Josar added that new funding would be awarded on a competitive basis. “A request for proposals, which we will prepare in consultation with the government of Cambodia, will be released this month,” he said.

CMAC’s Ratana said yesterday that government finances would allow ordnance and mine removal programmes to continue without any cuts in staff.

He added that another development partner had indicated support for project, but declined to elaborate.

“We will try to keep the funding at least the same. But we will try to increase to $2.5 to $3 million,” he said on the phone.

He added that he did not “want to close the door” on future cooperation with the US, but said the superpower should have consulted CMAC about its new bidding process.

On Monday, Ratana said he had met with the US State Department in July but was given no indication of any impending changes to the two countries cooperation.

“If they wanted to do like that they should have had consultations,” he said. “It is not correct to give no notice to shut down [funding] and then reopen it [for bidding].”

Ratana was sceptical of a parallel removal programme, for which he said it could take months to allocate resources, train demining staff and then implement the programme, hampering current efforts.

Aksel Steen Nilsen, country director for Norwegian People’s Aid, which works on demining efforts, said the request for bids by the embassy was ordinary, given that the nonprofit had won a similar bid three years ago to work with CMAC on its current project. But he did question whether a seamless transition will be possible as early as January.

“That will be fantastic if they can, but there is only a short notice,” he said. “We are one of the biggest demining operations here so we will bid for it.”

The Halo Trust yesterday said that it was focused on clearance operations in the country’s north and west and did not want to comment on its participation in any future bidding process.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • ‘Kingdom lacks up to 400MW in available electricity’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the general public, hoteliers and businesspeople with generators to use them as back-up as the Electricity Authority of Cambodia cannot generate enough electricity to meet needs due to low water levels in power station reservoirs. On Saturday evening

  • EDC tackles power shortfall

    Electrcite Du Cambodge (EDC) on Monday issued a statement updating the public on its efforts to tackle insufficient electricity supplies during the ongoing dry season. Reductions in electricity prices have resulted in a steady increase in consumers in the Kingdom, while local and international investors

  • African swine fever spreads to VN-Cambodia border

    African swine fever has spread to parts of Vietnam that border Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri and Kratie provinces, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official said on Friday. Tan Phannara, the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general, told a Phnom Penh workshop that