In the first six months of this year, demining specialists in Banteay Meanchey province found about 500 units of unexploded ordnance (UXO). In the past five years, explosive remnants of war have killed six people and injured 13 others, officials said.
Speaking at a June 29 ceremony to raise awareness about the dangers caused by UXOs, deputy provincial governor Ly Sary detailed efforts to eliminate this danger.
“In the first six months of this year, 56 minefields have been cleared, a total area of 3,535sq km. Teams found 270 anti-personal mines, four anti-tank mines and 227 explosive remnants of war,” he said.
The ceremony was held in Seila Khmer village of O’Bei Choan commune, O’Chrov district, Banteay Meanchey.
Sary said that in the past 5 years, there have been 16 explosions caused by UXOs. Apart from the human casualties, one tractor was damaged and two cows were killed. The accidents were due to people taking the risk of encroaching on land that had not been cleared, or those who were trying to access non-timber forest products in suspected mined areas.
He said that these situations still occur, and that the provincial authorities are considering additional measures to prevent them.
“We ran an educational campaign, where billboards were displayed. They urged people to be mindful of the dangers of mines,” he said.
He added that so far this year there has only been one incident in the province. In Preav Chas village, Or Bei Choan commune, a cow was killed in an explosion. Fortunately, no humans were hurt. Last year, he added, there were two explosions which killed one and injured another. They occurred in Poipet City and Phnom Srok district, respectively.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ly Thuch – Senior Minister and first deputy chairman of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) – requested demining operations respond to reports of UXOs by the public as quickly as possible.
He urged members of the public to avoid tampering with suspected explosives told them not to risk entering land that had not been confirmed as clear by specialists.
Thuch requested that authorities in villages, communes and districts help to educate the public about landmines and explosive remnants of war in a comprehensive manner so that they would understand the risks associated with them.
He also asked the police to help spread the word about their dangers through the implementation of the safe villages and communes policy and the laws that regulate weapons, explosives and ammunition.