US cuts out funding to clear wartime bombs

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Reuters

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre yesterday said the United States would cease funding its work to clear the country of unexploded ordnance from January.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said on Facebook he was informed of the decision by their partner NGO Norwegian People’s Aid.

“The US has cut its aid to CMAC through NPA without giving a reason,” Mr Ratana said.

The US was supplying CMAC with $2.5 million annually through NPA to clear UXOs.

Heng Rattana, director of CMAC. Supplied

“I am disappointed they are stopping funding at a time when Cambodia has discovered and is suffering from chemical remnants of war left by the US,” Mr Ratana said. “The US government must be held responsible.”

Despite this, Mr Ratana urged the public not to worry about the aid cut, since Prime Minister Hun Sen would not allow the issue to affect the operations of CMAC.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he could not confirm exactly why the US had stopped aid to CMAC through NPA.

The US dropped two million bombs – 800,000 tonnes – on Cambodia from 1963 to 1975. Supplied

However, he said the cut was related to US President Donald Trump’s policy to slash aid to many countries, not only Cambodia.

Last month, CMAC signed an agreement with NPA to extend by two months a US-funded project to clear UXOs such as cluster munitions.

An extra $320,000 means the work will continue this month and next. The project has already run for three years at a cost of about $2.1 million per year.

Supplied

The cut to CMAC’s funding comes as the government last month called on the US to help with the removal of chemical bombs found in Svay Rieng’s Korki commune. The bombs were dropped by the US during the Vietnam War.

Kem Monovithya, daughter of jailed CNRP president Kem Sokha and deputy director-general of public affairs for the party, claimed that US aid to the country next year will be dependent on the condition of her father’s release, arrogantly relating the US government policy to that of her jailed father.

In September, foreign affairs secretary of state Ouch Borith said a US Senate clerk official in May warned that Mr Trump’s administration planned to cut 70 percent of aid to Cambodia.

The US Embassy yesterday declined to comment.

According to data released in 2000, the US dropped two million bombs – 800,000 tonnes – on Cambodia from 1963 to 1975, with the aim of destroying Viet Cong invaders.

The US has spent more than $131 million on removing unexploded ordnance from the country over the past two decades, including US, Chinese, Vietnamese and Soviet bombs.

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