With 32 square kilometers of land cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance in 2004, Cambodia ranks second in the world when it comes to clearing land from the lethal explosives, according to the latest annual Landmine Monitor Report from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Denise Coghlan, research officer from Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmines, said that although more could be done to rid Cambodia of mines, being second out of 84 affected countries was a good sign.
“If [Cambodia] has cleared the second most land of anybody in the world I think they are doing a good job but it is slow compared to the overall problem,” she said.
According to the report released on Wednesday, 154 countries including Cambodia have now signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty banning stockpiling, producing and transferring landmines.
As a signatory, Cambodia is bound to clear all of its land of mines and UXO by 2010, Coghlan said.
“Cambodia is supposed to have all its mines out of the ground in 2010. If they cannot do it they can apply for an extension but they have to have a very good reason,” she added.
Mine Action and Injury Prevention Coordinator for Handicap International Christian Provoost said that even if the government is granted an extension, clearing Cambodia of mines in the near future is not a realistic goal.
“If they want to clear everything it will take 150 years more,” he said.
Kem Sophoan, director of the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Center, said that the highest priority in de-mining was to clear the heavily mined areas along the Thai-Cambodian border.
To get the job done, Kem Sophoan said: “We would like to prolong this mine action [deadline] until 2020.”
The Cambodian Mine/UXO Information System’s latest report shows that mines or unexploded ordnance injured or killed 36 in October, bringing the total number of dead or injured so far in 2005 to 775.