As several provinces experience flooding, Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), issued a reminder of the heightened dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) during and after floodwaters have risen and receded. He urged extra caution among those in high risk areas.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Cambodia is currently suffering from the effects of a prolonged low-pressure system over the Mekong basin in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Coupled with a weak southwest monsoon, it has resulted in heavy rainfall in some parts of the Kingdom, which may lead to flooding or landslides.
In an October 1 announcement, Thuch advised caution during and after the floods, warning that long-buried ERWs could be exposed by heavy rains or landslides, potentially endangering the lives of members of the public.
He called on the National Committee for Disaster Management (NACD), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the National Police to educate the public about the increased risks, and issue warnings.
“Demining operators are working to educate people about the dangers of landmines and ERWs. The capital and provincial mine action committees have instructed the public to notify their local authorities, village or commune chiefs, immediately, should mines or ERWs be discovered,” said Thuch.
He recommended that educational materials be prepared and shared as widely as possible, in order to reduce the risk to the public in flood-affected areas.
He also reminded demining operators of the need to respond to any notifications as efficiently as possible and to erect warning signs in any areas suspected of concealing mines or ERWs.
According to the NACD, as of September 29, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin and Kampong Thom provinces have all been affected by flooding, while coastal provinces and those along the Mekong River have not.
The same day, September 29, Prime Minister Hun Manet issued instructions to the authorities and armed forces at all levels to remain alert and stand by to provide immediate assistance to any communities affected by natural disasters.
“At this stage, it remains necessary to prepare forces and means to rescue people who may be affected by floods,” he said.