via CAAI News Media
PM Rejects Border Mine Planting Charge
Thursday, 18 February 2010 03:10 DAP-NEWS
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday rejected accusations that Cambodia had been planting new landmines along the border.
Speaking to some 1,000 deminers at the handover of de-mining equipment from the Japanese government, he said that “Cambodia has been allegedly accused of planting new landmines in the area along the borders. I wish to assure that those locations are densely contaminated with landmines and the landmines had been planted by various fighting factions in the past.”
“It is nothing surprising that, when someone enters the areas where landmines have not yet been cleared, he could have an accident,” he said. “Not to mention the fact that foreign soldiers have little understanding of the geographic layout of the area, as even soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces stationed at the borders and Cambodian villagers living near the mined areas also face danger if they enter the areas where landmines have not been cleared.”
Hun Sen said the number of mine casualties has dropped significantly but UXOs remain a major threat.
At the ceremony, the Japanese government donated 588 mine detectors, 44 deep-search detectors, spare parts for mine clearance machines and a mobile repair unit. The equipment is worth about US$5.5 million.
A report from Cambodian Red Cross said that in 2004-2005 the number of victims was as high as 800 people per year but in 2008-2009, this number had dropped to just over 200 victims, the premier confirmed.
Heng Ratana, Director-General of CMAC, said in the ceremony that CMAC is dedicated to its four core activities: Mine Awareness; Mine Marking and Survey Activities; Mine/UXO Clearance and Training.
“Currently, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre is staffed with 2,500 people who are employed in the Headquart er in Phnom Penh, Demining Units located in some provinces and the Training Centre in Kampong Chhnang,” he added.
Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese Ambas- sador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, said that “The Government of Japan has supported de-mining activities of CMAC in various forms of assistance amounting, up to date, over US$110 million which include the provision of de-mining equipment and technical cooperation since 1999, the provision of fund through UNDP, and the assistance to several NGOs working in de-mining activities.”
In another story, the Thai embassy in Cambodia will offer aid to a Thai convicted of planting landmines along Thai-Cambodia border and who was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in jail, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said recently.
Diplomats are looking into what assistance the government is able to provide, Kasit was quoted as saying by the Nation.
In a hearing last week, Suphap Vong Pakna confessed to planting at least five explosive devices along the Cambodia-Thailand border, claiming Thai soldiers paid him to do so.
Japan Donates US5.5 Million for UXO Clearance
Thursday, 18 February 2010 03:09 DAP-NEWS
PM Hun Sen on Wednesday presided over ceremony held to formally receive mine clearance equipment from the Japanese government.
“This time the equipment grant aid is worth US$5.5 million including 588 mine detectors, 44 deep search detectors, spare parts for mine clearance machines and a mobile repair and the maintenance workshop, he said.
The equipment aid is to support and ensure the continuity of CMAC’s de-mining operations, and “responds to the needs of the Cambodian people and the government to have the landmines and unexploded ordnance cleared in order to pave the way for the improvement of the Cambodian people’s livelihood and the reconstruction of the country” the PM told the ceremony.
“This large amount of the grant aid further indicates the strongly determined position of the government and people of the Japan in making significant contributions to enable Cambodia to deal with the challenges and the deadly legacy of the millions of landmines and UXO remaining scattered all over the kingdom, especially in the rural farming areas,” he said, adding that thousands of families are directly and indirectly exposed to the constant threats posed by this hazardous remnant of war.
Hun Sen highlighted that under win-win policy of the government, the war was finally brought to a close end at the end of 1998, but the burden remains to be shouldered by the government—not only in integrating human resources, building physical infrastructure, and solving other difficult problems—but also in handing the challenges leftover by the remnants of war, including landmines and other UXO, some of which date to the second war. “Battling the landmines and UXO problem is therefore a very important and strategic objective of the government and its development partners to determinedly undertake in our effort to ensure that Cambodia and its people will enjoy full safety and security after the complete peace and national unity have been restored,” he said.
The premier said that, despite the fact that the government and its development partners have joined hands to deal with the landmines and UXO for more than ten years, there is still huge number of landmines and other items of UXO scattered over villages, farmland, paddy fields and many other locations, and they still pose constant threats to innocent people who reside in former battle areas. “Many people have become permanently handicapped or tragically lost their lives to these hazardous items. More than these landmines and UXOs continue to pose formidable threats to the villagers using their land for growing crops to feed their families and cause great impediments to efforts of the infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country,” he stressed.
He added, however, that as a result of the combined great efforts, the number of landmines and UXO casualties has dropped remarkably in recent years. According to the Cambodian Red Cross’s statistical report on landmines and UXO victims, in 2004-2005 the number of victims was as high as 800 people per year. By 2008-2009, this number dropped to just over 200 per year. “As a result, approximately, 27,000 hectares of land has been cleared of landmines, while around two million pieces of landmines and UXO have been removed. It proactively helps the government to rebuild the rural infrastructure and contributes to providing a safer land for people for farming and grow agricultural crops,” he noted.
Hun Sen said that the tenth anniversary of Ottawa Convention in Cartagena, Colombia not only approved Cambodia’s proposal to extend its landmines clearance mandate for another ten years, but also approved Cambodia to be the host country for organizing the eleventh conference which is scheduled to take place in November or early December 2011, with the expected attendance of some 900 participant s from over 150 countries and the major international organizations. At the same time, Cambodia will serve as chair of the convention for one year mandate in 2012. Moreover, CMAC should continue to strengthen its capacity to prepare for competition at the national and international levels in the free market of the de-mining sector, he added. Moreover, Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese ambassador to Cambodia said that this is fifth time that my government provides a package if equipment to Cambodia’s de-mining activities following 1 to phase four assistance in 1999,2000, 2002, and 2004 respectively. The Japanese government has supported de-mining activities of CMAC in various forms of assistance amounting, up to date, over $110 million which include the provision of de-mining equipment and technical cooperation since 1999, the provision of fund through UNDP and the assistance to several NGOs working in de-mining activities, he said. “ It is a fundamental objective of the aid policy of the Japanese government to contribute to the peace –building, to promote development and to reassure human dignity in developing countries, he said, adding that CMAC has already cleared 25,141 hectares of land and 2 million landmines and uxos since 1999 up to 2009. I hope the assistance from the people and Japanese government with the provision of de-mining equipment will enable safer and more effective de-mining activities of CMAC and increase further the number of Cambodian people who can enjoy the peace dividend and lead peaceful life. In this way, Japan will continue to assist Cambodian in its efforts to develop the nation and to reduce poverty, he added.
Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC, said that CMAC is currently able to clear over 35 square kilometers each year. But CMAC will require resources and equipment, as well as funding of over US$95 million to support the operation for the next five years. “We are proud of our great achievement and satisfactory outcome but landmines and exploded ordnance continue to be major threats.”
Uneventful Chinese-Vietnamese New Year: Commissioner
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Phnom Penh Police Commissioner Touch Naroth reported an uneventful Chinese-Vietnamese New Year in the capital.
In an interview with Soy Sopheap, DAP Media Center Director-General, Touch Naroth said that this New Year’s had seen no serious mishaps like robbery, murder or fatal traffic accidents.
“However, I would express my regret that a rape case took place in the capital, and a small grass fire, but the authority intervened in time,” he added.
The commissioner claimed that the incidence of forbidden firecrackers in Phnom Penh was not on a large scale as “most Phnom Penh citizens understand better and pay attention carefully to protect and practice following the authority’s education.”
Valentise’s Day was also uneventful, the commissioner claimed, thanking the armed forces and security officials and local citizens for keeping order.