December 21, 2022
PHNOM PENH – A total of five provinces and the capital had been declared mine-free as of December, as Cambodia’s 2025 goal of becoming mine-free approaches. A senior official said the Kingdom is now on track to declare a further six provinces mine-free by the end of next year.
Ly Thuch, Senior Minister and first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said on December 18 that the capital and fives provinces – Stung Treng, Kep, Prey Veng, Preah Sihanouk and Tbong Khmum – were mine-free by mid-December.
“The Samdech Techo Project for Mine Action [STP-MA] made a considerable contribution to this achievement,” he added.
He said that thanks to the work of the STP-MA, which operates under the theme of “Providing Safe Ground, Creating Smiles”, in collaboration with development partners, six more provinces will be announced landmine free in 2023. They are Kampong Cham, Takeo, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot, Svay Rieng, and Kandal.
Nevertheless, Thuch said some obstacles still remained as the mine-free goal approached.
“To meet our 2025 goal, we will still require additional financial support. In terms of deminers and technical abilities, we are well-resourced. Our financial limitations mean we are restricted to clearing between 250 and 260sq km per year,” he added.
He said the government had released $30 million in funding through its Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Fund to realize this goal, with additional support from development partners.
In addition to the targeted provinces, Cambodia is planning to clear mines along its borders.
Along the Cambodia-Thailand border, he said the CMAA have been authorised to lead Cambodian cooperation with Thai authorities. The CMAA will oversee three institutions for this task: the National Centre for Peacekeeping Force, Mine, and ERW Clearance (NPMEC), the army, and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre. The work may begin as soon as January.
According to the CMAA, civil war in Cambodia has left nearly 4,000sq km littered with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Cambodia began clearing mines and UXOs at the end of hostilities, in 1992. In more than 30 years of min action, the Kingdom has spent more than $200 million.
As of October this year, there remained 2,001sq km of land which remained contaminated – 703sq km of mine fields and 1.298sq km which contains cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war.