CMAC Plans To Reorganize, Avoid Stoppage

The Cambodian Mine Action Center, crippled by a reduction of funds from donor countries, plans to cut salaries and reorganize its budget rather than halt its demining work, agency officials said Wednesday.

The governing council of CMAC, which met Wednesday morning, decided to continue demining operations, relying on donor’s pledges that additional funds soon will be available.

Ieng Mouly, the council’s chairman, said Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Holland have promised up to $3 million. “We are hoping that other countries like Canada, Australia and Britain will give more support,” he said.

Khem Sophoan, CMAC’s director general, had said Tuesday that nearly all of the demining work would be suspended because the agency had run out of money. CMAC currently has about $240,000, a quarter of the money needed for the agency to operate through March, he said.

Most donor countries withdrew or suspended their funding last year after revelations of mismanagement, such as instances of land cleared by CMAC being turned over to wealthy businessmen and government officials.

Ninety percent of the agency’s operating budget comes from a handful of donor countries.

“We will not stop demining operations,” Ieng Mouly said. “But we have to be realistic.”

Ieng Mouly said he did not know if the $3 million pledged by donors would be enough to keep CMAC running through year’s end.

“We are disappointed that we are in this situation,” Ieng Mouly said. “We should be able to plan for the longer term. The donors blame CMAC that the reforms are not being implemented.”

Donor representatives met Wednesday to review the agency’s funding and current operations.

“We’re looking at the state of donations and contributions, where they’re at and when they might be expected,” Australian Ambassador Malcolm Leader said. “Things just have to sort themselves out as far as short term donor money is concerned. No one’s talking about the end of CMAC. It’s just a small bump.”

Leader said the situation at CMAC has improved significantly in recent months, with a new accounting system now in place and aggressive recruiting to fill senior-level vacancies.

“A lot of the concerns articulated by donors have been ad­dressed,” he said. “CMAC’s done a lot. I don’t think anyone’s in real doubt about that.”



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