PHNOM PENH: A total of 2,000 members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) will be deployed as part of humanitarian demining efforts throughout a five-year period until 2025.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, Prime Minister Hun Sen had authorised the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) 2020-2025 for access to funds to be used for the deployment.
A letter from Hun Sen, made available to the Post, said mines, cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war had not only maimed and killed citizens, but also posed obstacles to rehabilitation, the development of families’ livelihoods and the economy.
To boost demining operations in accordance with the “Mine-Free Cambodia” strategic plan, Hun Sen said the government decided to make a 10 per cent contribution to all new projects for humanitarian demining in a bilateral or multilateral manner.
“We have also set out concrete plans to embark on mine-related research in 73 districts in the eastern part of the country this year.
“As head of the government, I gave permission to the CMAA to continue with the participation of 2,000 RCAF personnel in the humanitarian demining operation.
“However, from 2020 to 2025, Cambodia still needs a further US$377 million to demine 806 square kilometres of land that contains cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war,” the letter said.
Hun Sen advised citizens who encountered mines, cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war not to touch them.
“They have to report them to the local authorities or the nearest demining operation units.
“They must not buy, sell, store, or improvise mines, cluster bombs and explosive remnants of war. This is against the law.”
Last year, the rate of mine victims had increased by 33 per cent, compared with 2018.
“Though mine-clearing has yielded good results, we still have to continue to educate and promote demining operations through the radio, TV channels, social media, posters and leaflets.
“We will incorporate it into the education curriculum of the Education, Youth and Sport Ministries, as well as apply the law on the management of weapons, explosives and ammunition and take further administrative action,” he said.
Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana said on Wednesday that this recommendation was a positive move to promote the exploration and the demining of land mines in line with development plans.
He said that CMAC had trained more than 300 army officers in skills and awareness around demining, including rules, exploration, safety protection and mine destruction.
“The officers have learnt a lot. They are capable of joining us in demining operations.
“CMAC will continue to train our military forces to meet the necessary needs.
“However, we still lack some of the resources to equip officers with everything they will need on the field.”