The Halo Trust demining NGO has over the past 28 years cleared nearly 300 square kilometres of land and removed nearly half a million anti-personnel mines in the Kingdom, a report released yesterday showed.
In the report, the NGO said that since 1991 it has demined 287 square kilometers and destroyed nearly half a million of UXOs, noting that it cleared an average of 760 UXOs per month which has benefited more than one million Cambodians.
Halo Trust said that it has about 1,200 deminers operating in Preah Vihear, Koh Kong, Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Pursat and Pailin provinces, noting about half of them are women.
“Early this month, we took in 124 trainees for demining work,” the report said. “This morning at our Kdep Thma training centre, the new recruits are learning how to identify mines buried in the ground.”
“Soon they will be ready to join Halo Trust teams across Cambodia to find and remove dangerous mines from the land, making it safe for families to use again,” it added.
Halo Trust Program Manager Damian O’Brien yesterday urged donor countries to continue supporting the organisation’s efforts to free Cambodia of UXOs.
“It is very encouraging that our donors, the governments of UK, Germany, USA and Ireland continue to recognise the need for demining in Cambodia,” he said. “Their support allows us to deploy more deminers in areas that are most heavily impacted by mines.”
“Under the dedicated leadership of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, national and international demining agencies are working towards making Cambodia mine-free by 2025. Good coordination of resources across the sector and effective prioritisation of work helps to maximise value for money for donors and ensures that our services reach the people who most need them,” Mr O’Brien added.
Mao Saro, who works for Halo in Pailin province, said the NGO is working hard to aid the 2025 mine-free goal.
“Currently, demining staff are working hard to demine areas abundant with UXOs along the border with Thailand, and also in Samlaut district in Battambang province which also borders Thailand,” he said.
Ly Thuch, senior minister and the vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, could not be reached for comment.
However, CMAA reported in September that from 2000 until August this year, 1,444 people were killed in landmine accidents, while another 6,192 people were injured. It added that Cambodia will need 2,000 more deminers to make the Kingdom mine-free by 2025.