Cambodia held a two-day event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the country’s effort to rid its land of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), encouraging the population to take pride in this national achievement whilst teaching them about the past.
“Due to the large area of landmines and ERW and limited resources, Cambodia has planned and prioritized clearance for the most affected and in-demand areas,” explains Ly Thuch, first vice-president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority. “For the clearance operations, the operators have used all of the possible methods, equipment, and technologies to clear areas in accordance with the situation of the actual minefield.”
Held at Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, the exhibition featured many live demonstrations, including how trained animals – such as dogs and rats – take part in the demining efforts and victim rescue operations. Presentations were made regarding the safest demining techniques, demining achievements, materials, machinery, and equipment. Over the past 30 years, 2,531 square kilometers – the equivalent of 1,703 villages – have been cleared and turned into safe land. Therefore, an estimated 9 million people can now safely build houses, schools, hospitals, bridges, roads, and farms. Millions of landmines have been found and destroyed, including 1,151,232 anti-personnel mines, 26,112 anti-tank mines, and 3,028,659 other pieces of unexploded ordnance.