Experts from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) have cleared mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from 25sqm of farmland and land set to be designated as economic zones in the first three months of this year, CMAC director Heng Ratana said on Monday.
“Over a three-month period, we have cleared mines on a total of 25sqm of land in the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Preah Vihear and Tbong Khmum. Our priorities are villagers’ farmland and land set to be established as trade zones. We are currently stationed in six locations where we will further carry out mine clearance,” he said.
Ratana said CMAC had detected and destroyed more than 9,400 mines and UXO across the provinces.
During the same period, the number of casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance stood at 44, while CMAC officials and local authorities educated more than 80,000 people about the danger of mines and UXO.
“CMAC is facing challenges. It is difficult to make everyone aware of the danger because CMAC forces are very small in number. We need competent officials from all institutions to help pass the knowledge on to people. The budget we have is not sufficient and it’s difficult to secure [enough] aid to support CMAC’s mine clearance activities,” Ratana said.
In a recent mine-related tragedy, a 17-year-old died and his 20-year-old wife sustained serious injuries when a bomb exploded on March 29 at Khvav Lech village in Svay Chek district’s Svay Chek commune, Banteay Meanchey province.
The couple were roaming the forest picking vegetables when they came across a grenade and threw it against a tree, causing the bomb to explode.
Following the incident, Cambodian Mine Action Authorities deputy secretary-general Chao Chi An urged relevant authorities to pursue awareness-raising campaigns and asked the public to immediately report suspicious UXO to authorities.
Chi An made the appeal while discussing UXO safety with junior high school students at Khvav Lech village in Svay Chek district’s Svay Chek commune on Monday.