Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said that without public and private contributions, it could take demining forces from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) almost 10 years to clear the remaining minefields of Kampot.
Thuch was speaking at an August 29 meeting to provide updates on demining operations in the country and to discuss the implementation of the Samdach Techo Project for Mine Action – themed “Providing Safe Ground, Creating Smiles” – in Kampot province.
With the encouragement of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thuch has deployed demining forces from CMAC in five provinces – Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Kampot and Svay Rieng – where they are working on clearing 31sq km of mine-laden land.
“In order to declare Kampot province mine-free, we will remove 121 minefields, which cover almost 11sq km. The operation will last from this month until June next year,” he said.
He referenced the premier’s vision in creating his namesake national movement, which was dedicated to ridding the Kingdom of the scourge of landmines at any cost. The project has mobilised funding and motivated many people and organisations to increase their support for restoring land to the people.
“I call on every citizen to support Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government to end mine clearance work and eliminate the last landmines in Cambodia,” he said.
He added that the work is time-consuming and requires cooperation from all stakeholders. Participation from the sub-national level administrations was particularly needed to successfully accelerate mine clearance.
He said the CMAA was coordinating with donor communities and “friendly” countries and urging them to assist the government in its efforts to render the country mine-free by 2025. To that end, the Kingdom would need funds, materials and trained personnel, he added.
Last week, Thuch and Svay Rieng provincial governor Men Vibol met with the CMAC demining forces that had been deployed in the province.
Like Kampot, Svay Rieng is expected to be declared mine-free in June next year.
Back in early July, Hun Sen appealed to donors to play their part in ensuring that Cambodia is entirely mine-free by 2025.
“I appeal to our people to contribute to a national movement against mines, to remember those who were killed or injured by these terrible remnants of a violent past. Let us make it possible for all of the residents of the Kingdom to use their land as they wish, without fear. Let them once again grow rice where they please, with smiles on their faces,” he said.
Three provinces – Kep, Prey Veng and Stung Treng – have so far been declared mine-free. Cambodia has an estimated 71,603.9ha of mined land remaining.
Thuch also told Takeo provincial governor Ouch Phea that Takeo will be declared free of landmines in late 2022.
“Takeo province received the support of the Samdech Techo project and we will declare this province mine-free in December, once we have cleared the 55 mine fields, which cover 3.62sq km,” he said.