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CMAC set to eradicate minefields in five provinces

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A CMAC officer preparing unexploded ordnance for demolition in Battambang province on Tuesday. CMAC

CMAC set to eradicate minefields in five provinces

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) has laid out demining plans that aim to make Phnom Penh and five other provinces landmine-free by 2022, targeting the remaining anti-personnel landmines in minefields that have been logged in the national database.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on February 10 that according to the new plans, the NGO was planning to clear areas free of landmines that were outside of minefields. They include Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kep, Kandal, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Kampong Cham.

He explained that demining in these provinces refers to minefields that have been logged on the record map and national data and are known to exist. “This demining is to become mine-free provinces. We refer only to minefields,” he said.

However, he stressed the distinction between landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), saying: “There may be areas with unexploded ordnance [in these provinces], such as bombs dropped from planes, [that] we have not yet planned for.

“The demining that we talk about refers to anti-personnel mines that we have known [to exist] and have identified in the polygonal record map in the national data.

“So as long as there are anti-personnel mines in those provinces, we [will] work hard to remove them completely,” he said.

According to the plan, CMAC is on track to complete demining work in Phnom Penh and Kandal by the end of this month, while the first stage of complete landmine removal in Kep is scheduled to be finished by mid-February.

Meanwhile, Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) and the national army infantry have strengthened cooperation on their work in demining and safely destroying explosive remnants of war (ERW).

On February 9, CMAA First Vice-president Ly Thuch and Hun Manet , deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, co-chaired a virtual meeting on disseminating the directive of the Council of Ministers and strengthening partnerships and cooperation on ERW and mine clearance.

The meeting was attended by top provincial officials, army commanders, provincial mine action committees and mine action planning teams from 15 provincial administrations that had landmines and explosive remnants of war along the border.

Thuch praised the army’s infantry on its effort to liberate the country from genocide, defend sovereignty, and protect the peace of the nation.

The army’s infantry has actively participated in the removal of landmines since 1979 in its aim to provide security for people returning from the horrors of genocide.

“In 2022 ... we plan to hold an important event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of humanitarian mine clearance under the presidency of Samdech Techo [Hun Sen],” he added.

Thuch said that with this achievement, Cambodia has come a long way in its efforts to address the remaining areas of land threatened by landmines and munitions, and is on track to achieving freedom from landmines by late 2025.

Manet lauded the Kingdom’s demining work over the past three decades. He considered the work to be crucial in the development of the country, rehabilitating former battlefields for land use and development, as well as in reducing the danger for many Cambodians living under the threat of landmines.

“We have participated in many demining activities at the sub-national level so far. And after getting permission from the Royal Government of Cambodia, [...] we will start joining humanitarian mine clearance [efforts] in collaboration with CMAA to speed up complete mine clearance,” he said.

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