Cambodia's senior official calls for stronger support to achieve country's 2025 mine-free target

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua): A senior Cambodian official on Monday called for stronger support from friendly countries and development partners to achieve the kingdom's 2025 mine-free goal.

Ly Thuch, senior minister and first vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said the government has been steadfast in its commitment to clearing mines and explosive remnants of war (ERWs).

"This dedication is crucial for protecting lives and fostering socio-economic development throughout the country," he said in Phnom Penh during a workshop on technology requirements for mine clearance.

Thuch extended his earnest appreciation and gratitude to all friendly countries, development partners, operators and key stakeholders for their invaluable contributions to mine action in Cambodia, and urged them to continue their noble missions for this humanitarian cause.

"This support is not just an investment in clearing mines; it is an investment in peace, stability, and the future prosperity of Cambodia," he said. "Your dedication, partnership, and belief in a safer, more prosperous world are invaluable."

To achieve the mine-free goal by 2025, he said Cambodia 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 ERWs.

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 Thuch, from 1992 to 2023, Cambodia had cleared 3,024 square kilometers of landmine and ERW-contaminated land, benefiting about 12 million people, or 70 percent of the country's total population.

He said the number of landmine and ERW casualties had declined from 4,320 in 1996 to 32 in 2023 and to below 100 a year in the last 10 years.

He added that so far, 15 out of 25 provinces and municipalities in Cambodia have been declared mine-free.

From 1979 to February 2024, landmine and unexploded ordnance explosions had claimed 19,822 human lives and either injured or amputated 45,221 others in the kingdom, according to a CMAA report. - Xinhua

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