The Japan Mine Action Service yesterday pledged its continued support for demining action until 2023, when the Kingdom aims to be mine-free.
Nakano Masahito, its technical adviser, said at a press briefing at the Japanese Embassy that JMAS will work hard to help clear landmines and UXOs until the Kingdom achieves its target.
“Our goal is to help Cambodia until it becomes mine-free because we want to see Cambodian people happy when we leave,” he said.
Suenaga Noriyoshi, JMAS resident representative, yesterday said the NGO, which is mainly composed of former Japanese military officers, was established in 2001.
He said that in July 2002, JMAS had signed a cooperation agreement with CMAC and started demining activities in Prey Veng province.
“Major activities of JMAS included transferring of mine action techniques to CMAC, disposing of landmines by using various machines and providing mine-risk education to the local population, including children,” Mr Suenaga said.
He noted that currently, JMAS officials are working in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Thom provinces.
Mr Suenaga said that JMAS staff, including seven Japanese nationals and 18 Cambodians, and 90 CMAC members are working on demining work in the three provinces.
“From 2002 to 2018, JMAS has helped to clear mines from 3,287 hectares by removing 19,454 landmines, 636 anti-tank mines and 387,619 UXOs,” he noted.
Mr Suenaga added that the NGO has also built structures for local communities, including 11 schools, 65 kilometers of laterite roads and 76 kilometers of ditches and gutters, noting that it also dug 52 water ponds in the provinces.
He said JMAS also encourages females to work as deminers.
Mr Suenaga noted that JMAS is now seeking other NGOs to partner it in developing areas which had been cleared of landmines and UXOs, to improve the people’s livelihoods.
“I think that if we have any NGOs as partners to help develop the areas which we have demined, it will boost people’s livelihoods,” he said.
Mr Suenaga also said that he could not estimate how much JMAS has spent on its activities since 2002, but noted that the Japanese government channels about $1.5 million yearly, through it, for demining work.
Last month, a CMAC report noted that about 45,500 unexploded ordnance and landmines had been unearthed from nearly 90 square kilometres last year and were destroyed.