Unicef yesterday announced that it is committed in continuing support for the government and its development partners to reduce threats posed by mines and explosive remnants of war.
Unicef representative Cristian Munduate during an event to mark the 21st National Mine Awareness Day in Pursat province yesterday noted that concerted efforts by the government, development partners and demining agencies had reduced the number of casualties caused by landmines and ERWs from more than 4,000 in 1996 to 77 last year.
“We have come a long way, but landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to pose a serious threat to the lives of many Cambodians,” Ms Munduate said. “Children are dying or getting seriously injured while doing what they should be doing as part of a normal childhood-playing.”
She also called for full integration of mine risk education in the primary school curriculum and textbooks, as well as other development activities by government institutions.
“On behalf of United Nations agencies and development partners, we are committed to continue our collaboration and to provide support to the government of Cambodia and partner organisations, to reduce the socio-economic threats by mines and ERWs,” Ms Munduate said. “We are committed to continue our assistance to landmine survivors as well as promote and protect the rights of persons living with disabilities, in particular children.”
Ly Thuch, first vice president of the Cambodia Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, said at the event yesterday that the participation in reducing victim rates should not only focus on clearing landmines, but also on educating people on the dangers of landmines and reporting those they come across to the authorities.
He noted that to educate the public, the government has designated the National Mine Awareness Day, which has been held annually since 1999, and introduced various measures to promote awareness on the dangers of mines.
“From January until February 24 this year, there were five victims of landmines and ERWs, with two deaths,” Mr Thuch said, adding that there were 22 victims during the same period last year.
Australian Ambassador Pablo Kang said at the event that mine risk education is a significant factor in the reduction of the casualty rate of landmine victims.
“I am very pleased to announce that Australia has just confirmed its continued support of the new phase of the Clearing for Results Project – which aims to help Cambodia achieve mine-free status by 2025 – and will focus on the provinces most affected by mines: Battambang, Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces,” Mr Pablo said.