A Cambodian Mine Action Authority official has requested the Chinese government to assist the Kingdom in achieving its mine-free 2025 goal by training demining forces.
CMAA vice president Ly Thuch met with Chinese Ambassador Wang Wientian on Friday to discuss the cooperation.
“We want Cambodia free from landmines by 2025,” Mr Thuch said. “In order to be successful, we will need more deminers. Today we have 2,489 deminers, including 498 women.”
He added that deminers are the backbone in achieving the goal and noted that they are heroes of the nation.
“We need about 1,000 to 2,000 extra deminers,” Mr Thuch said, adding that the increase would need the endorsement of Prime Minister Hun Sen and army commander Lieutenant General Hun Manet.
“We asked our friend China to continue training members of our armed forces, provide equipment and financially support our platoons,” he added. “We want the Chinese government to help our mine clearance efforts through commander Hun Manet.”
According to Mr Thuch, Mr Wang responded positively.
“[Mr Wang] said that the Chinese government is with us when it comes to supporting our demining efforts,” he said.
China is currently helping train Cambodian deminers on an annual basis. The Kingdom sends roughly about 30 to 40 demining officials to learn new techniques in China. Additionally, China has also donated equipment and funds for Cambodia’s demining efforts.
“The Chinese government donated more than $2 million in 2018 for the demining sector,” Mr Thuch said. “We asked the Chinese government to help us from this year until 2025, which is the goal.”
“On behalf of the government, I would like to invite friendly countries and partners to continue to work with the government to get the job done by 2025,” Mr Thuch said. “National and international communities strongly welcome this vision and support the idea of incorporating soldiers to help in the demining sector.”
Mr Thuch noted the government is prepared to receive help from any nation willing to become a donor.
“We welcome other countries who want to help our demining efforts,” he said. “Please join and contact His Excellency Hun Manet.”
According to Mr Thuch, landmine casualties have decreased by thousands over the past decades.
He added that demining organisations last year cleared 124 kilomteres of mine-ridden land and collected 14,788 anti-personnel mines, 191 anti-tank mines and 52,165 UXOs.
As of last month, the Kingdom had 1,729 square kilometres riddled with UXOs, including 809 square kilometres of mine fields, left to be cleared at a cost of more than $350 million, according to Mr Thuch.