Senior demining official Ly Thuch asked the Chinese Ambassador yesterday to provide more support in order to reach the goal of making Cambodia mine-free by 2025.
Thuch, first vice president of Cambodia Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authorities, had a courtesy meeting yesterday on mine-action cooperation with the Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Wang Wentain, at the Chinese Embassy.
Thuch said that the Chinese government has provided tents, vehicles, demining equipment, drones and uniforms to help development work with the Cambodian government, including support for humanitarian mine action in Cambodia, both financially, technically and materially.
He informed the Chinese ambassador that the government has set a clear goal to end the mine threat by 2025.
He called on China to continue to provide strong support to end the landmine threat.
“Chinese assistance and humanitarian demining work, now and in the past, is a contribution in response to and in line with the government’s long-term commitment and goals for the nation, including peace, security, safety and development for all Cambodians,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wentain said that the Chinese government and people will continue to participate in the development of Cambodia, including continuing to support the Mine Action Plan 2025. He sees the clearance work as a contribution to the happiness of the Cambodian people as well.
According to Thuch, the government and foreign donors have spent about $500 million to clear land mines and war remnants in the Kingdom over the last 20 years, making formerly mine-strewn areas safe for cultivation.
Thuch said that the Kingdom still needs more funding so it can reach its mine-free goal by 2025.
“The government has spent $167 million and international donors have spent about $400 million on mine clearance over 20 years,” he said. “We need about $300 million more for mine clearance so that Cambodia can be mine-free by 2025.”
Approximately 1,900 square kilometres of land has been declared mine-free, with casualties being brought down from 4,320 per year in 1996 to an annual average of around 100 a year over the last five years.
Much of the remaining 1,970 square kilometres remain in the Kingdom’s northwestern region after landmines were laid during Cambodia’s civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.
Progress has, so far, been achieved through large foreign donations from Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. Also, the Cambodian government annually contributes its own funding on top of international contributions.
Thuch added that: “The road to Cambodia being mine-free by 2025 is ongoing with full commitment and optimism from the government, the donor community and operators, but the road is still long. But where there is a will there is a way!”
According to the CMAAA, five people were killed and 21 were injured by landmines and UXOs in the first four months of this year.