December 6, 2022
PHNOM PENH – The government has established the “Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Fund” to achieve the goal of clearing the Kingdom’s remaining landmines by 2025, in a bid to provide security and harmony for people from all walks of life.
The sub-decree establishing the fund, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 3, said it would be used to manage the costs of clearing mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).
The decree came as the funds for the Samdech Techo Project for Mine Action (STP-MA) – an initiative the premier established on July 4 of this year to accelerate the goal achievement of a mine-free Cambodia 2025 – has run out.
According to the sub-decree, which contains eight articles, the Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Fund receives an initial contribution from the state budget of $30 million for 2023-25. More contributions – from the state and other sources – may be made in successive years when necessary.
It states that the state’s contribution will be recorded in the budget of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and that finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth will be responsible for managing, using and disbursing the fund, with the General Department of Budget as the secretariat. All “Mine-Free Cambodia by 2025” financial resources are to be kept in a deposit account at the National Treasury or the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC). An account at a commercial bank may be opened, at the discretion of the finance minister.
“The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority [CMAA] will develop a work plan to use the financial resources of the fund. It will specify the locations, the size of the areas to be cleared and a work calendar as well as report on the achievements of its activities,” it added.
This action plan will be subject to final approval of the prime minister.
After receiving approval, the CMAA will prepare a budget request and submit it to the finance ministry.
Heng Ratana, director-general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), said on December 4 that the fund is important to liberate the country, which was devastated by the explosive remnants of war (ERW) that remained when fighting ceased. Cambodia’s efforts to develop itself over the past 30 years have been hampered by threats to land and the safety of its people.
“Our partners have been helping Cambodia for 30 years, and the government has joined them. Lately, some of our partners have been less capable of providing assistance,” he added.
He also said that the conclusion of the International Convention by 2025 is fundamentally important not only for Cambodia, but also for the international community.
“Demining is very important for the national economy. If we can clear the mines as soon as possible, it will be an opportunity to boost economic growth, especially in the agricultural sector in terms of land use,” he added.
As of this month, he said that several provinces have been declared mine-free. This included Kep, Kampot, Takeo, Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Chhnang, Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham. By the end of the year, he expects that 11 other provinces will have been declared mine-free as well.
CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch sent out a message celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mines Advisory Group Cambodia (MAG), an international NGO which has been involved in humanitarian mine action in Cambodia since 1992. They have saved lives and contributed to building the future of Cambodia.
“Despite the unfortunately events of 1996 that saw MAG lose two great heroes – Christopher Howes and Huon Hourth – to the Khmer Rouge, the will of the brave deminers of MAG continued their efforts to clear mines without hesitation,” he said.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of MAG in Cambodia. Let us use this occasion to remember and thank all of the fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for mine action, and we offer our thanks to the heroes who continue to work fearlessly and relentlessly to clear mines and UXO from our country,” he said.
According to the prime minister, the $18,473,570 that had been raised from donations by King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk and various philanthropists for the STP-MA had dried up On December 1.