Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), has reiterated that mine clearance work across the country has brought nothing but smiles and happiness, with more and more people living in safety, free from the threat of the silent killers.

Thuch met with Andrew Griffiths, head of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s demining team on November 3. The two sides discussed their ongoing cooperation on mine action under the Global Mine Action Programme (GMAP).

“On behalf of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, I offered my profound thanks to the government and people of the UK for supporting the humanitarian mine clearance sector in Cambodia and for their determination to continue to assist the Kingdom with its ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025’ goal,” said Thuch via social media.

He noted that said that since 1998, the UK has joined Cambodia in mine action operations through the HALO Trust, the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and APOPO. The UK has also supported Cambodia with capacity building training of CMAA officials.

“After we achieve our 2025 goal, we will still need the participation of the UK and other partners in addressing the remaining risks of explosive remnants of war [ERW],” he added.

He described the progress and development of mine action in Cambodia, saying that the close attention and determination of the new government continue to offer the Cambodian people smiles, safety and happiness.

The CMAA reported that in the first quarter of this year, 2,579sq km of land had been cleared of mines, with 76 per cent of the cleared land now being used for farming activities, contributing to a reduction in poverty and the country’s continued development.

An area of 1,885sq km was still suspected to be infested with land mines, with plans in place to clear 563sq km by 2025. An additional 729sq km of cluster munitions and 593sq km of unexploded ordnance (UXO) would be cleared after 2025.

On October 30, Prime Minister Hun Manet presided over a ceremony declaring Kampong Speu province mine-free, the 13th of the Kingdom’s administrative regions to be so declared.