Cambodia leads pack for landmine clearance efforts

Source: Phnom Penh Post

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A deminer works though the process of neutralising a marked piece of unexploded ordnance on a mine field in Battambang province. Scott Howes

Cambodia has cleared more square kilometres of landmines than any other country over the past year, according to a new report by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, but is still unlikely to meet its goals in coming years.

At 46.5 square kilometres, Cambodia’s demining efforts account for more than 25 percent of all recorded global demining since October 2015. Cambodia is also among the top five aid-receiving countries for demining activities, along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Laos and Syria.

The report classifies Cambodia as having a status of “massive antipersonnel mine contamination”, which it defines as having over 100 square kilometres of contaminated area in the entire country.

demining

Despite Cambodia leading the pack in clearance last year, the organisation that created the report agreed with the recent Geneva International review that found Cambodia is not on schedule to meet its upcoming land-clearing deadlines.

“Cambodia’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 clearance deadline is 1 January, 2020, and it is not on track,” said Jennifer Reeves, a mine action consultant with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Reeves also doubted Cambodia would meet the 2025 target set in the 2014 Maputo Agreement.

This is noted within the report, which claims that Cambodia is seeing a sharp “acceleration” that is unlikely to continue into the future.

“Operators will be dealing increasingly with land that needs full clearance which may slow the pace . . . Clearance of densely contaminated land has averaged less than 2 sq km a year for the last five years compared with the 10 sq km a year that would be needed,” the study says.

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