NATIONAL MINE ACTION STRATEGY 2010-2019
Cambodia’s landmine problem is the result of a protracted sequence of internal and regional conflicts that affected the country from the mid 1960s until the end of 1998. The nature of landmine and ERW contamination in Cambodia is highly complex. The north-western regions bordering Thailand are heavily affected, while other parts of the country (mainly the East) are considered moderate to low impact, affected mainly by ERW. Mines and ERW have caused an unacceptable number of casualties, both military and civilian and have hindered national development.
Mine clearance started along the Cambodia-Vietnam border by the company of women soldiers of the Cambodian People’s Revolutionary Army in 1979 with thousands of hectares of land cleared and thousands of mines/ERWs destroyed to provide safe resettlement and agricultural land despite the lack of substantial financial, technical and modern equipment support. The inception of official humanitarian mine clearance in Cambodia dates back to 1992.
MRE started in 1993 focusing on providing mine and ERW awareness messages to returnees and internally displaced persons settling in affected areas when the armed conflicts had ended. By 1998, demining activities had significantly expanded, with the presence of four demining operators: the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), the HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). Cambodia signed the APMBC in 1997 and became a State Party to the convention on 1st January 2000. In September 2000, the RGC established the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) chaired by the Prime Minister Hun Sen, understanding that mine action has reached a turning point from an emergency response to a long term development perspective with a focus on a comprehensive approach to regulation, planning and coordination.
The CMAA has the responsibilities to regulate, coordinate and monitor mine action activities throughout Cambodia. While landmine and ERW survivors’ assistance activities were initially coordinated and monitored by the CMAA, they are now the responsibility of MOSVY. Realizing the need to include community needs/requirements in prioritization of demining tasks in order to reduce casualties, Cambodia established LUPU in 1999 and PMAC/MAPU in 2004.
Cambodia has achieved major progresses from 1992 to 2009. Some 52,918 ha of mined affected land have been cleared nation-wide for housing, farming and other infrastructures and 860,159 anti-personnel mines, 19,952 anti-tank mines and 1,907,621 explosive remnants of war have been destroyed. The number of casualties has been reduced from 4,320 in 1996 to 244 in 2009. This result was achieved with technical, material and financial support from the Cambodian government and the international community. Despite these significant achievements, mine/ERW remain a challenge in people’s lives and for national development. Therefore, the RGC set a ninth millennium development goal on demining and victim assistance, and mine action is also a priority focus in the Rectangular Strategy Phase II and an important input to the NSDP.
In December 2009, Cambodia as a signatory to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention since 2000 was granted a ten-year extension of its mine clearance dealing by States Parties to the APMBC.
For the purpose of the Extension Request, Cambodia will be required for demining operations over the next ten years to clear some 648.8 square kilometers of mine affected land and to release 1,097.8 square kilometers of suspected land through baseline survey and technical survey. In order to achieve this plan, Cambodia will require USD 455 million. In addition to the mine problem, the magnitude of the ERW problem resulting from the artillery shelling, rocket launching and air bombing is huge. Information received from the US Department of State reveals that just from 1965-1975, more than 2.75 million tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia. To address this ERW problem, Cambodia needs financial support in addition to those required for mine clearance.
To reach the CMDGs, Rectangular Strategy Phase II, NSDP and obligations under the Ottawa treaty, the CMAA, demining operators and all relevant partners hereby prepared the National Mine Action Strategy based on existing strategies, previous experience, lessons learned, study report on ways toward building a new NMAS for Cambodia and the findings from the workshop on preparation of a NMAS held in July 2009. The timeline for the implementation of this 2010-2019 NMAS is also in line with other national strategies, such as NSDP update 2009-2013 and the next NSDP 2014-2018.
The NMAS consists of four goals. These goals are: 1 – reduce Mine/ERW casualties and other negative impacts; 2 – contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction; 3 – ensure sustainable national capacities to adequately address the residual mine/ERW contamination; 4 – promote stability and regional and international disarmament.
To achieve the NMAS, Cambodia is required to undertake the following implementation measures (i) complete a baseline survey for 122 districts which are affected by mines/ERWs by 2012, (ii) undertake measures to reduce suspected land based on the baseline data, (iii) mainstream mine action plan with the sub-national plan by prioritizing mine fields based on the baseline information and requirements of the local communities for casualty reduction and development in order to allocate the mine clearance resources to the right target, (iv) strengthen capacities and coordination in important areas such as the preparation of mine action coordination plan, gender mainstreaming, information management and quality assurance, (v) participate in the efforts to maintain international and regional stability through partaking in enforcement of international conventions and treaties where Cambodia is a State Party, (vi) mitigate casualty and provide assistance to victims of mine/ERW and (vii) maintain sustainable national capacities.
To monitor the achievements and progresses in the implementation of the NMAS, the CMAA will establish mechanisms to measure the progresses against the goals, indicators and targets as well as implementation measures as set forth in the strategy. The first review will be conducted in 2013 and the provision of information and review will be consistent with the NSDP and the final review will be conducted in 2019. All relevant mine action agencies shall provide data and progress report to the CMAA for records, analysis and report to the RGC and relevant partners.