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CMAA, Oz enhance partnership

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CMAA’s Ly Thuch and Australian ambassador Pablo Kang on Monday. CMAA

CMAA, Oz enhance partnership

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) and the Australian embassy will co-host a high-level dialogue on mine action on May 20 to expand and enhance partnerships.

To be held under the theme “Expanding and Elevating Partnerships towards a Mine-Free Cambodia 2025”, the event aims to bring the CMAA together with current and new development partners, including the private sector, in Siem Reap province in a hybrid format.

As a state party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Cambodian government is committed to clearing all known landmines by the end of 2025.

“This commitment, while not legally binding, was made in good faith and one that Cambodia and other state parties take seriously and aspire to meet,” CMAA and the embassy said in a joint press release on May 16.

To operationalise and coordinate efforts towards this goal, the CMAA drafted a comprehensive National Mine Action Strategy (NMAS) 2018-2025, outlining eight goals and associated objectives. Goal one is to release all known landmine-contaminated areas for use by 2025.

Although ambitious, the deadline is an attainable target if the government, international donor community and development partners as well as the private sector work together and accelerate their support for mine action, the release said.

The event is also aimed at exchanging insights and experiences to uplift the alignment and harmonisation of aid for the mine action sector.

It aims to present initiatives to advance the implementation of the NMAS and identify innovative approaches to mobilise the resources required to carry it out.

“With support from the international donor community, development partners, ministries, and national and international operators, the Cambodian government has made great efforts over the past 30 years to remove mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) throughout the country,” noted the press release.

According to the CMAA report, from 1992 to April of this year, 2,379sq km of contaminated land was cleared and released, on which over 1.1 million anti-personnel mines, more than 26,000 anti-tank mines, and almost three million ERW were found and destroyed.

The report said despite this commendable effort, about 2,000sq km of land remained contaminated with landmines and ERW as of April. Landmine contamination remains in 22 out of the country’s 25 capital and provinces, covering approximately 735sq km, an area equal to the size of almost 140,000 football fields.

“Based on experience, CMAA estimates that an additional 12 per cent of the remaining landmine-contaminated area will be newly discovered during clearance and land release operations. Therefore, the total landmine-contaminated area to be addressed from 2022 onward is projected at 823.20sq km,” it said.

According to the report, mines and ERW have killed and injured nearly 65,000 people in Cambodia since 1979. Although the number of annual casualties has been brought down from 4,320 in 1996 to 44 in 2021, Cambodia has some of the highest numbers of casualties in the world.

“Mines and ERW continue to kill, injure, and traumatise people and communities, and severely impede humanitarian responses, peacebuilding and stabilisation efforts, socio-economic recovery and sustainable development.

“Throughout Cambodia, almost one million people still live and work in areas contaminated by mines and ERW,” it said.

Cambodia’s landmine contamination is the result of a protracted sequence of internal and regional conflicts that affected the country from the mid-1960s until the end of 1998.

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