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CMAA Organizes More Mine Clearance Forces Under Samdech Techo's Mine Action Project

PHNOM PENH: The First Deputy Chairman of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), Senior Minister Ly Thuch, chaired a meeting with the Army Command, the National Center for Peacekeeping Forces (NPMEC) and the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) to set goals and priorities for the planning and distribution of clearing forces under the first phase of the "Samdech Techo Project for Mine Action, Provide Safe Land, Create Smiles.”

The meeting was held on Monday, 4 July, and Senior Minister Ly Thuch confirmed that the parties had agreed with the Army Command to clear eight local/municipal areas and declare the following districts/municipalities as demining areas: Sre Ambel district (Koh Kong Province), Chhlong District, Chit Borey District (Kratie Province), Preah Vihear City, Tbeng Meanchey District (Preah Vihear Province), Oudong District (Kampong Speu Province), Serey Sophorn City, Mongkul Borei District (Banteay Meanchey Province).

Additionally, NPMEC works to clear land in Tbong Khmum province, declaring it as a demining area. The CMAC is responsible for clearing the area in Takeo and Kampot provinces, declaring them as mine-free provinces. CMAC will also clear the area in Chongkal district (Oddar Meanchey province) and declare it as a demining district using joint forces with the Army Command in order to exchange experiences between the two operators.

The Senior Minister further stated that the plan will continue to be implemented in accordance with the procedures of demining work and the Cambodian Mine Action Standards, requiring the technical team to inspect and assess the situation of all actual minefields (size, type and geographical situation) to raise the budget and deploy clearing forces accordingly. The process of implementing demining areas and selecting priority areas includes: a Non-Technical Survey with the operator, planning the deployment of the non-technical research team (with the approval of the Mine Authority), deploying the non-technical research team (as instructed by the Mine Authority), identifying clearance areas, analyzing clearing capacity with operators, inspecting mine plantations, preparing the budget, submitting this information to demining authorities, inspecting and providing clearance projects to operators, conducting quality control checks, and then finally handing over the cleared land with a mine-free declaration.

In Cambodia, 22 capitals and provinces continue to be affected by mines (excluding cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war), with a total area of 716,039,712 square meters (71,603.9 hectares) still waiting to be cleared.

The campaign comes just days after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Minister of Economy to prepare a part of the national budget to form a demining package, in order to expedite demining efforts.

Speaking on National Fish Day in Banteay Meanchey province on Friday morning, 1 July, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that this decision is to ease the difficulties of waiting for help from donors as Cambodia plans to clear all mines by 2025 and launch a mine-free declaration campaign.

The Prime Minister said, "Now, like in Kep, we have declared it a province without mines. In some places, we only need $50,000 [to clear mines], we ask for funding from donors abroad, but it is very difficult! Now [we should] allocate part of the national budget to [clear mines] in places where the mines are almost all cleared, but there is a lack of money [to do this operation]. The demining force consists of the CMAC, other operational forces, such as Army Engineering, the Army Corps, Army Command, as well as overseas peacekeeping operations. We [should] use that money to clear mines and make those areas mine-free for the safety of our people."

At the same time, the Prime Minister also urged the private sector to join the government in clearing mines in Cambodia.

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