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UXO toll at 10 deaths, 30 injuries in 6 months

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A tractor that was flipped over by an exploding anti-tank mine in Kors Kralor district of Battambang province last year. CMAC

UXO toll at 10 deaths, 30 injuries in 6 months

In the first six months of 2022, there were nearly 30 explosive ordnance accidents causing 10 deaths and 30 injuries, an increase of over 20 per cent compared to the same period in 2021, which had 22 such accidents.

According to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) June 2022 Explosive Ordnance Accident Report, obtained by The Post on July 19, from January to June there were 27 explosive ordnance accidents – an increase of 23% compared to the same period in 2021.

Of the 27 accidents, there were 15 that involved landmines and 12 that involved other explosive remnants of war (ERW) such as undetonated bombs.

“The number of victims of explosives from January to June was 40, an increase of 54% compared to the same period in 2021 with only 26 victims,” the CMAA report states.

Of the 40 victims, 18 were landmine victims and 22 were victims of ERW. The casualty count includes 10 dead, 23 injured and seven with injuries that required amputation. 27 of the casualties were adult men, 12 were boys under the age of 18, along with one woman.

According to the CMAA, from January 2021 to June 2022 there were nearly 100 casualties from landmines and ERW, which occurred in five provinces: Battambang, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Pursat and Kampong Thom.

The CMAA also noted that from January 1979 to June 2022 a total of 65,004 people were confirmed to have been injured by explosive ordnance, including 19,818 deaths, as recorded by the Cambodia Mine/ERW Victim Information System (CMVIS).

Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said that CMAC had cleared more than 1,500 square kilometres of minefields and destroyed more than three million landmines and other munitions.

“The centre has saved countless lives and property in Cambodia and has participated in turning the former battlefields into lands of safety and sustainable development,” he said.

On July 1, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an order to clear all landmines in the Poy Char commune and Trapeang Thmor areas of Phnom Srok district in Banteay Meanchey province.

The prime minister also called on the public and wealthy philanthropists in particular to contribute to the government’s efforts to achieve zero landmine status for Cambodia by 2025, suggesting the start of a national movement to solve the landmine problem once and for all.

Ly Thuch, senior minister and first deputy chairman of the CMAA, said that the implementation of the first phase of the “Samdech Techo Project for Mine Action” is underway and they plan to have three provinces including nine districts and municipalities cleared of landmines within the next six months.

The target locations for clearance in the next six months are Tbong Khmum, Kampot and Takeo provinces along with Sre Ambel district in Koh Kong, Chhlong district and Chitr Borei districts in Kratie, Preah Vihear town and Tbeng Meanchey district in Preah Vihear, Odong district in Kampong Speu, Sisophon town and Mongkol Borei district in Banteay Meanchey and Chongkal district in Oddar Meanchey province.

Three provinces have already been declared clear – Kep, Prey Veng and Stung Treng – leaving portions of the other 22 provinces still affected by mines (excluding cluster munitions and ERW) with a total area of 716,039,712 square metres or 71,603.9 hectares that will need to be cleared in order to meet the 2025 goal.

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