US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann formally handed over $2.58 million to demining agencies Thursday as his government reiterated its policy of supporting actual demining projects in the field, but not administrative costs.
The Cambodia Mine Action Center will receive approximately $1.3 million. Of that amount, $200,000 will go toward a new program in which US soldiers will be trained in the US and then come to Cambodia to provide support in the areas of medical aid, mine field assessment and project maintenance.
The Halo Trust is being granted about $747,000. Of that, nearly $450,000 will be used for projects in Oddar Meanchey province, while $84,000 is budgeted for deep-search detection equipment and $189,000 to cover other equipment costs.
The Mine Advisory Group will receive $198,000 for projects in Prey Veng province and $97,000 for working in Kompong Thom province. CARE International is being given $250,000 for its integrated demining-village building projects in Bavel district near Battambang.
A $150,000 grant to Handicap International will be used for its Mine Incident Database Project.
“It’s the only money we’re spending that isn’t going directly into the ground,” said Major Ralph Skeba, a US Army Attache who works closely with the demining agencies. “This data will help us decide where to put money in the future.”
Where that money will not go in the near future is toward CMAC administrative expenses.
CMAC Director-General Khem Sophoan, while thanking the US for its timely support of his financially-struggling agency, said again the demining group needs to find $2 million from donors or NGOs in order to keep operating through the end of the year 2000.
The US has given $19 million in cash and in-kind contributions for demining since 1994, and $20 million for victim assistance programs and may participate in a future demining project in Pailin.
That money would come out of a future US grant.