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US extends mine clearance grant

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
The extension will allow CMAC to continue its work until the end of February. Supplied

The United States has extended for two months a grant to clear unexploded ordnances from the country through the Cambodian Mines Action Centre.

The commitment came after China pledged to help clear landmines and explosive remnants of war from Cambodia earlier this week.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said he received a letter on the issue from the US Embassy on Wednesday.

The US has been supplying CMAC with about $2.5 million annually to clear UXOs through its partner NGO Norwegian People’s Aid.

That funding via NPA was due to cease by the end of the year, but the latest move means work will now be extended for January and February.

Mr Ratana said he has not been told exactly how much cash CMAC will receive, but NPA normally provides around $350,000 for a two-month period.

China’s promise to help clear land mines and explosive remnants of war from Cambodia came as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang met for talks in the Philippines on Monday, on the sidelines of the Asean summit.

The US last week said it would stop funding for CMAC through NPA at the end of the year. However, it pledged to continue paying for work to clear landmines and unexploded ordnances from the country through other means.

David Josar, deputy spokesman for the US Embassy, said more funding for UXO clearance initiatives would be awarded on a competitive basis.

“We intend to award funding for this effort on a competitive basis,” he said. “A request for proposals, which we will prepare in consultation with the government of Cambodia, will be released this month.”

Mr Ratana said the US Embassy encouraged CMAC to participate in the bidding process to secure ongoing funding for its work.

“I hope that continuing support from the United States will reduce some of our difficulties,” he said. “We need collective efforts to address these remnants of war together.”

Mr Josar said the grant to fund CMAC would see the organisation through until the end of February.

“We made this decision to guarantee there is no disruption in these demining activities while the tender for our new project is under way,” he said.

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