Cambodian Mine Action Authority and a Norwegian NGO on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a project to clear landmines and UXOs in seven eastern provinces.
The project, to be carried out by CMAC and Norwegian People’s Aid, involves locating and clearing UXOs at a cost of $425,000 and is supported by the United States.
Heng Ratana, CMAC director-general, and Rune Kristian Dale-Andresen, NPA president, signed the MoU at CMAC’s headquarter in Phnom Penh.
“On August 21, 2019 at CMAC’s headquarters, Mr Rune Kristian Dale-Andresen, NPA President and I signed an extended contract agreement for supporting Cluster Munitions Remnants Survey and Clearance in eastern provinces of the Kingdom with a grant total of $425,000 supported by the Government of the United States,” Mr Ratana said on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
The project from August 5 this year to February 29 next year involves locating and clearing landmines and UXOs in 744 villages in seven provinces, including Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, he noted.
“After searching for and locating cluster bombs in the provinces, we will organise ways to clear them to ensure the safety of the people,” Mr Ratana added.
He noted that the project is supported by the US Department of State through the NPA and is part of CMAC’s ongoing efforts to clear UXOs in the Kingdom.
Mr Ratana said over the phone yesterday that for the first seven months of this year, more than 50 people were killed or injured by landmines and unexploded ordnances throughout the Kingdom.
“The number of victims killed or injured, increased more than 50 percent compared with the same period last year,” he noted.
Mr Ratana urged people in landmine infested areas to continue being cautious, because most of the deaths this year occurred because victims picked up UXOs and tried to dismantle them to use for other purposes.
“We urge people to immediately inform CMAC officials or the local authorities if they come across landmines or UXOs,” he said.
Earlier this year, US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg said that the United States has a long history of working with its partners in Cambodia to address the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance remaining as a legacy of internal and regional conflict.
Ms Zeeberg added that in the last 25 years, the United States has spent more than $160 million to fund clearance of landmines and other explosives as well as provide training, capacity building and mine detection equipment.
According to CMAC records, former US President Bill Clinton in 2000 confirmed that the US had dropped approximately 2.8 million tonnes of bombs in Cambodia from 1963 to 1975, including more than 28 million cluster munitions and chemical bombs. More than 500,000 Cambodians were killed and thousands of houses were destroyed.
Ly Thuch, Cambodian Mine Action and Victims Assistance Authority vice president, yesterday said that the US government has provided more than $100 million in aid for landmine and UXO clearance over the past 20 years.
He noted that beside the US, other countries and organisations such as the United Kingdom, UNDP, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Ireland and UNICEF are also aiding the Kingdom to clear landmines and UXOs.
“We thank all countries and organisations for supporting our efforts to clear landmines and UXOs in Cambodia,” Mr Thuch said.