The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) is set to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the start of efforts to demine Cambodia, which began in earnest in 1992. The events planned are set to take place over November 21-22, with Prime Minister Hun Sen expected to be in attendance.
Senior Minister and First Vice-President of the CMAA Ly Thuch said that the CMAA was tasked with leading and coordinating the mine action sector at home and it had become increasingly active on the international stage as Cambodia’s demining expertise is used to help other war torn nations.
The CMAA is also the regulatory body that leads the National Mine Action Strategy 2018-2025, which plans the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war, manages mine action data and generally monitors and leads the implementation of the demining sector in Cambodia.
He added that the purpose of celebrating the event was to reflect on the Kingdom’s past demining activities and bring renewed focus on the completion of the plan set by the government to make the Kingdom landmine-free by 2025.
“Obviously, we set up the Samdech Techo Mine Action Project in line with the prime minister's call for more resources and the national movement to accelerate the demining work to finish it by the original goal of 2025 so we can provide the Cambodian people with greater safety,” he said.
He also said that the project has implemented its first phase in six provinces and seven communes covering about 42 sq km, including Tbong Khmum, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Kampot and Svay Rieng. Phase one is scheduled to be completed in March, 2023.
According to Thuch, the second phase is scheduled to begin in December and will involve the demining of over 74 sq km in Kratie, Kampong Speu and five districts in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom. In total, the two phases will cover 116.5 sq km of known minefields and after it is completed those eight provinces and five districts will all be declared mine-free.
He stated that the work on the issue of landmines in Cambodia began after the liberation of the Kingdom in 1979 from the Khmer Rouge and that the prime minister in particular considers completion of the demining work to be an important element for the continued development of the country.
In a report, the CMAA said that from 1992 through the end of November 2018, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC); the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance; the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces; HALO Trust; the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA); the UK-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Cambodia Self Help Demining (CSHD) had joined CMAA in clearing 1,794,889,140 sq m with 1,061,785 anti-personnel mines; 24,823 anti-tank mines and 2,763,196 explosive remnants of war.
The report also noted that from 1992 to the end of November 2018, there were 28,434 victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war who either lost their lives or were injured by them.