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Swiss to aid mine action, Kantha Bopha Hospital

Pech Sotheary and Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Ivo Sieber, Swiss Ambassador, meets Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn. Fresh News

Switzerland will provide about $6 million in continued aid to help clear mines in the Kingdom over the next five years.

The pledge to provide the aid was made on Tuesday during a working meeting on mine action cooperation between Senior Minister Ly Thuch, Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority first vice president, and Carin Salerno, country director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

CMAA posted on its official Facebook page on Tuesday that during the meeting Ms Salerno said Switzerland will continue to support Cambodia by providing about $6 million for mine clearance from 2020 to 2025.

Mr Thuch said yesterday that the Swiss government’s aid would be used to clear target areas containing landmines so that the land can be allocated to poor families to live and farm on safely.

“This aid will also go towards helping the government to achieve its target to make the Kingdom mine-free by 2025,” he said. “On behalf of the government and Cambodian Mine Action Authority, we would like to thank the Swiss government for supporting the mine clearance sector in Cambodia, as well as helping Cambodian people to avoid dangers due to landmines.”

According to CMAA, Switzerland, from 2013 to 2019, had provided $7,240,000 for mine clearance so that poor people in communities could cultivate and build houses or other infrastructures on land that had become mine-free.

It said apart from Switzerland, other donor countries that have helped Cambodia in demining operations include Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, United States, Austria, Belgium, France, Norway, Ireland and the UNDP.

Cambodia has committed to completely clear mines in the country by 2025, requiring about $400 million to achieve this goal.

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority recently reported a 73 percent increase in the number of landmine casualties during the first four months this year compared to the same period last year.

There were 26 reported incidents from January until April compared to 15 during the same period in 2018.

The report said eight people were killed and 39 others were injured during the first four months of this year, while five were killed and 19 injured during the same period last year.

The Swiss will also provide about $4 million each year over the next four years to support Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, its outgoing Ambassador Ivo Sieber said.

He made the announcement yesterday during a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn at the ministry.

Speaking to a group of reporters after their meeting, ministry spokesman Ket Sophann said the Swiss government had promised its support to the hospital from this year till 2023.

“The Swiss will continue to financially support Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital for the next four years, providing approximately $4 million per year,” he said.

Mr Sophann said that during the meeting, Mr Sokhonn had informed Mr Sieber that the government has guaranteed the sustainability of the hospital by allocating $10 million per year.

He said the government also donates an additional amount to the hospital’s fund by deducting $2 each from the sales of tickets at Angkor Archaeological Park.

Dr Denis Laurent, chief operations officer at the hospital, yesterday expressed delight over the Swiss contribution, saying that $4 million corresponds to 10 percent of the hospital’s annual budget.

“With the support from the Royal government of Cambodia of around $12 million, and the cooperation with the Cambodian Kantha Bopha Foundation and also generous Swiss and Cambodian donors, we hope that the Kantha Bopha hospitals could continue to work in the future in the spirit of Dr Beat Richner, free of charge, without discrimination and with a great medical quality,” he said.

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