Cambodian PM Hun Manet urges greater support for kingdom's 2025 mine-free goal


PHNOM PENH, Feb. 22 (Xinhua): Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet on Thursday called for greater support from the international community to achieve the kingdom's 2025 mine-free goal.

In a message to mark the National Mine Awareness Day on Feb 24, the prime minister said continued financial and technical support was essential for the Southeast Asian country to fulfil its mine-free dream.

"We urge greater participation from the international community to raise awareness of the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance, the hidden killers that threaten human security even after armed conflicts have ended," Hun Manet said.

To achieve the mine-free goal by 2025, he said the kingdom needs to clear the remaining 533-square-kilometer land contaminated with mines and another 1,321-square-kilometer land contaminated with cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs).

Ly Thuch, senior minister and first vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, said the clean-up of landmines and ERWs would not only save lives, but also contribute to boosting the economy and reducing poverty.

"Currently, around 1 million people in the kingdom, particularly in rural areas, still live in fear and work in areas suspiciously contaminated by landmine, ERWs and cluster munitions," he told Xinhua.

Cambodia is one of the countries worst affected by landmines and ERWs. An estimated 4 million to 6 million landmines and other munitions had been left over from three decades of war and internal conflicts that ended in 1998.

According to Hun Manet, from 1992 to 2023, Cambodia had cleared 3,024 square kilometers of landmine and ERW-contaminated land, benefiting about 12 million people, or 70.5 percent of the country's total population of 17 million.

He said almost 1.18 million anti-personnel mines, 26,339 anti-tank mines, and 3.1 million ERWs were discovered and destroyed in the last 31 years.

The prime minister added that the number of landmine and ERW casualties had declined from 4,320 in 1996 to 32 in 2023, to below 100 a year in the last 10 years, and to below 50 a year in the last five years.

From 1979 to October 2023, landmine and ERW explosions had killed 19,822 people and either injured or amputated 45,212 others in the country, according to a government report. - Xinhua

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