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Prime Minister drives home explosives risk

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
A deminer works in the field to clear landmine. CMAC

To mark the upcoming National Mine Awareness Day on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen has prepared a message reminding the public to avoid landmines and unexploded ordnance for any reason.

The message was signed by Mr Hun Sen last week and was published by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority yesterday.

In it, he instructed the CMAA and other officials to continue to warn the public of the dangers of landmines and UXO.

Mr Hun Sen said mines, explosive remnants of war and cluster bombs still cause deaths and it is still an obstacle to the development of the country and the betterment of its people.

He said that to continue addressing the threat of mines, explosive remnants of war and cluster bombs, the government had set the National Mine Action Strategy for 2018-2025. The aim was to destroy these explosives by 2025 and to educate people about the dangers.

Mr Hun Sen urged armed forces, national and international mine action operators and development partners to collaborate in clearing, establishing and expanding volunteer networks to promote awareness of mines, explosive remnants of war and the dangers to people in across the country.

“Especially, people in vulnerable communities have to be informed about the risk factors, consequences of the danger and have strict measures for processing those explosives that always cause danger,” he said in the message.

He noted that people, especially children, are to immediately report to guardians, police, local authorities or the nearest demining unit should any mines or unexploded ordnance be found.

They must not take those explosives for processing or for any other reason. “Do not use heavy machinery to go and clear forests or farm land that has not yet been cleared of mines, explosive remnants of war and cluster bombs.”

CMAA vice-president Ly Thuch said the message was important because the CMAA had been making efforts to educate and disseminate information on the risks of mines and explosive remnants of war to people, especially in vulnerable areas.

He also asked relevant parties to continue collaborating with CMAA to organise the plan to effectively clear mines and explosive remnants of war.

“We have to help disseminate information together to reduce the deaths, injuries and disasters that happen to people, because if one family member is killed or disabled due to mines, the family will be poor.”

On January 14, a man was killed and nine people were injured when a 105-millimetre rocket head exploded in Chiro Muoy commune in Tboung Khmum province.

It happened when the victim took the rocket head for processing to use in fishing.

According to Mr Hun Sen, from 1992 to 2018, Cambodia cleared more than 1,802 square kilometres of mines for people to build houses, farmland and public infrastructures.

It had found and destroyed 1,062,661 anti-personnel mines, 28,832 anti-tank mines and 2,767,020 explosive remnants of war.

The number of victims has fallen from 4,320 in 1996 to 58 in 2018.

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