The Cambodian Mine Action Center has enough money to operate for a few more months, but the question remains whether long-term funding will be available to keep the agency going, the agency’s director-general said Friday.
“There is no new news,” Khem Sophoan said after a meeting of the governing council. “We discussed reforms but nothing is decided. Maybe at the next meeting we will make a decision.”
The UN Development Program announced last week that Sweden had decided to replenish the trust fund for CMAC by an amount of about $1 million per year for 2000 and 2001. Until the money is received, UNDP said it would advance funds to CMAC to cover its shortfall.
Before UNDP’s announcement, CMAC had first threatened to suspend operations, then said it would cut salaries and reorganize the agency’s budget instead. At the time, CMAC had about $240,000, a quarter of the money needed for the agency to operate through March.
The governing council said then it decided to continue operations, relying on donors’ pledges that additional funds will be available. But Khem Sophoan said Friday the de-mining agency has not yet received additional funds from sources besides Sweden.
Australian Ambassador Malcolm Leader said Friday his government is currently examining whether to provide short-term funding to CMAC and will make a decision shortly.
Australia had provided more than $5 million to CMAC from 1996-98 until it suspended funding in 1999 because of mismanagement discovered at the agency.
“There are still some things that need to be sorted out,” Leader said. “I know CMAC can’t do everything at once, but we need to be certain that its reform package is the right one.”
In an interview broadcast recently on CNN, opposition party leader Sam Rainsy blasted CMAC as a corrupt organization that only served the political interests of Prime Minister Hun Sen.