A senior mine clearance official has requested that China continue its support for humanitarian mine clearance efforts in Cambodia.

The current support encompasses technical resources and financial aid, along with human resource training.

This proposal came from Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), during the closing ceremony of a mine clearance training course in Nanjing, China, on September 8.

The three-month training programme saw 40 members of the armed forces of Cambodia and Laos successfully graduate the course.

“On behalf of Prime Minister Hun Manet and the president of the CMAA, I request that China continue to support humanitarian mine clearance operations in Cambodia, both technically and financially, and provide additional human resource training, whether in China or Cambodia,” said Thuch.

He also urged China to assist Cambodia beyond 2025 through the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). This assistance would involve clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) and cluster munitions across the country, as well as providing technical equipment and supporting South-South cooperation.

Thuch noted that this year marked the sixth year of China’s support for mine clearance training, after a three-year pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Through the six courses, a total of 199 Cambodian deminers have received new skills.

Thuch expressed hope that Cambodia, with China’s assistance, will successfully implement the National Strategic Plan for Mine Action 2018-2025, ultimately achieving a landmine-free Cambodia by 2025.

He noted that the CMAA is the sole organisation responsible for spearheading, managing, and coordinating mine action across the country.

According to the China Daily newspaper, Luo Xiannan, a lecturer at the Army Engineering University of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Nanjing, explained during the closing ceremony that new demining technologies – such as lasers, robots, and drones – were introduced for the first time in the latest courses for foreign trainees.

He believes that the new skills and methods would enable trainees to carry out their missions more efficiently.

The media outlet also quoted Ma Shengkun, deputy director-general of the Arms Control Department of China, who underscored his nation’s commitment to international cooperation on humanitarian mine clearance since 1998.

He explained that China has provided assistance to more than 40 mine affected countries, through financial aid, equipment provision, and training.

He highlighted how mine clearance cooperation has become a vital aspect of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China, Cambodia, and Laos, and pledged continued support to help these countries become mine-free.

Thuch expressed his government’s belief that China would emerge as a global leader in science and innovation by 2050 and continue to achieve their ‘Two Centenaries’ in building prosperous societies.

In the 30 years since demining efforts commenced in 1992, Cambodia has successfully cleared and repurposed 2,795sq km of land for cultivation, according to Thuch.

He said CMAA has played a pivotal role in detecting and disposing of millions of munitions and UXOs, contributing to a reduction in danger year by year. As of now, Cambodia has declared 12 provinces mine-free. It expects to declare an additional six free of mines by the end of the year.