Plea for help to clear chemical weapons

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
More than 100 villagers sought medical treatment. Supplied

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn has written to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague to ask for assistance in clearing chemical bombs from the country.

A ministry statement published yesterday said Mr Sokhonn had written to OPCW director-general Ahmet Üzümcü to inform him about the discovery of chemical remnants in Cambodia.

OPCW is an intergovernmental organisation that works to stop the use of chemical weapons alongside the United Nations.

Mr Sokhonn said Vietnam-war era bombs found in Svay Rieng’s Korki commune were consistent with the organisation’s definition of chemical weapons.

“Several affected victims were identified in the commune,” he said, adding there are about 34 locations known to contain the same type of devices throughout the country.

The US Embassy last month issued a statement over chemical bombs in the country, prompting outrage from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who described it as an insult to Cambodian people.

The statement said the use of tear gas was controversial, but clear procedures existed by which to dispose of it.

Mr Sokhonn said the government wants assistance in verifying the chemical substances in the bombs over fears for the health and well-being of citizens living near the old devices.

He added the government also wants assistance to support a national survey on chemical weapons contamination, as well as future clearance and destruction work.

Last week, Mr Sokhonn confirmed his ministry would file a request with the United Nations that US chemical bombs be cleared from Cambodian territory, in line with international law on chemical weapons usage.

More than 100 villagers in Svay Rieng have so far sought medical treatment for suspected exposure to chemical bombs at the provincial hospital. Most of the villagers had skin and respiratory complaints.

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