PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): Cambodia had seen a remarkable drop in the number of casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the last 24 years, Prime Minister Hun Sen said.
In a message to mark the National Mine Awareness Day on Wednesday(Feb 24), Hun Sen said the number of casualties had declined to 65 in 2020 from 4,320 in 1996.
Some 2,138 square km of contaminated land had been cleared of landmines and ERWs from 1992 to 2020, he said, adding that nearly 1.1 million anti-personnel mines, 25,488 anti-tank mines and 2.88 million ERWs had been found and destroyed over the period.
The prime minister said the cleared land had been used for agriculture, infrastructure development, and other purposes such as housing, villages, schools and healthcare centers with an estimated 6.35 million beneficiaries.
"Although we have achieved great results, Cambodia needs to clear the remaining 835 square km of land contaminated by mines and the remaining 1,316sq km of land contaminated by ERWs and cluster bombs in order to accomplish the goal of a mine-free Cambodia by 2025," he said.
Regional and internal conflicts from the 1960s to late 1998 had left Cambodia as one of the most mine and ERW affected countries in the world.
An estimated 4 to 6 million landmines and other munitions were left over from the almost three decades of conflicts.
According to a Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authorities (CMAA) report, from 1979 to 2020, landmine and ERW explosions had claimed 19,797 lives and either injured or amputated 45,123 others.
CMAA's First Vice President Ly Thuch has said the Southeast Asian nation is committed to clearing all types of landmines and ERWs in the kingdom by 2025 and to achieve this, the country needs a total budget of US$377 million.