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CMAA calls for help on 2025 mine-free goal

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CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch (second left) during the Philippines Mine Action Stakeholders Workshop. CMAA

CMAA calls for help on 2025 mine-free goal

As the deadline approaches, the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) continued to call for partner countries to join hands with the Cambodian government to ensure it meets its goal of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025.

“I request that development partners continue their support for the government and its work ... towards its goal,” said CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch.

Thuch made the APRIL 5 appeal at the three-day Philippines Mine Action Stakeholders’ Workshop, being held in Phnom Penh from April 5 to 7.

Philippine ambassador to Cambodia Amelia Aquino and representatives of ASEAN member states were in attendance, as were Paul Davies, programme manager of the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, and Fred Lubang, national coordinator of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The CMAA and Cambodia stand ready to support demining efforts in the region, not only during 2022 – the year of Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN – but at all times, Thuch said.

He said the CMAA needs skill development, and for new technologies to be integrated into the sector so that operators can perform their duties to the fullest.

“We must make significant changes to save our people’s lives, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. We must ensure children can play safely in their communities,” he said.

“We must ensure our children and farmers can walk safely to their schools and on their farms. We must transform landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination into agricultural developments, schools, hospitals and markets,” Thuch added.

Hussein Munoz, Philippine Minister of Public Order and Safety, shared his country’s experience at the event, saying that the Philippines has problems with ERWs in some areas, especially Marawi City.

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CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch (left) before the Philippines Mine Action Stakeholders Workshop on Monday. CMAA

He reaffirmed his ministry’s commitment to work with law enforcement agencies to establish a mine action system in the Philippines.

“There is no doubt that clearing our communities of ERWs, UXOs, and improvised explosive devices is a necessity, and that the work will entails effective coordination and responses. Let’s work together in making all of our communities safer for all our people,” he said.

According to a CMAA report, from 1979 to February 2022, landmines and ERWs have killed 19,813 and injured36,097 – including 9,072 amputations – in Cambodia.

In the most recent incident on March 30, a seven-year-old boy from ChoamKsan commune’s An Ses village in Preah Vihear province’s ChoamKsan district died after picking up an unexploded piece of ordnance and playing with it, according to the CMAA.

The CMAA urged the public not to touch UXOs, as they could cause death or injuries at any time.

It also called on residents to immediately report any UXOs to the nearest authorities.

Aquino, speaking at the event, said the Philippines is keen to learn UXO best practices and would value the experience of Cambodia and other ASEAN countries including Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos – as well as Afghanistan.

“This workshop will contribute towards the ongoing efforts of the Philippines to neutralise existing ERWs, including UXOs and IEDs [improvised explosive device], and enhance the mine action capabilities of the country,” she said.

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