Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) officials have estimated that between 26 and 30 million cluster munitions were used in Cambodia during the war.
Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre said that in the first six months of 2021 CMAC surveyed more than 14sq km of minefields and found nearly 2,000 cluster munitions which they then neutralised and destroyed.
“The munitions that are unsafe, we neutralise and then in some cases destroy them, but the first neutralisation can help reduce environmental problems and then if possible we want to get all those munitions for training or to display in a museum,” he said.
According to Ratana, for their cluster munitions research and clearance CMAC was aided by two main sources: the first was the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) funded by the US with $1.6 million and the second is the Chinese government with $2.5 million for each one-year period. These projects would run for three years and began in January 2020.
The CMAC director-general explained that the amount of cluster munitions dropped at each location depended on the type of airplane dropping them and could therefore vary from more than 400 cluster munitions to nearly 700 cluster munitions from a single grenade.
“The explosive effects of cluster munitions can destroy enemies in an area of 20m x 20m or 120m x 240m, depending on the drop level and the explosive status of each cluster bomb. According to documents, we know that between 26 and 30 million cluster munitions were used on the small territory of the Kingdom,” he said.
Ratana added that based on CMAC’s experience it can be estimated that about a quarter of the cluster munitions dropped did not explode and based on the settings from the factory the bombs had about a five per cent fault rate.
“The settings of the manufacturers and users of the cluster munitions are not the same, and those being bombed with them suffer if they explode and kill or injure them. But the ones that don’t explode right away are still scattered and they can still go off eventually endangering the next generation and future generations at any time,” he said.
According to Ratana, the project in 2020-2021 to date has achieved positive results such as clearing 113 sq km with 11,108 cluster munitions, land mines and explosive remnants of war.
The project also provided mine awareness education to 134,919 people and conducted preliminary surveys in 299 villages where they found 418 cluster munitions over an area of 47,467,901sqm.