Cambodia trains Ukrainian deminers

EOD Technician with Cambodian Mine Action Center
EOD Technician with Cambodian Mine Action Center, participates in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Level 2 instruction during Humanitarian Mine Actions (HMA) Cambodia in Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia, July 30, 2019.

Fifteen mine clearance personnel from Ukraine have successfully completed a week-long training stint in Cambodia, the Associated Press (AP) reported on 20 January.

AP quoted Ukrainian deminer Stanislav as saying that 64 deminers had been injured and 13 killed in the line of duty in Ukraine to date, noting that the main challenge for Ukrainian deminers was not only the scale of mine clearing operations, but also the necessity to ensure all mines are removed before displaced citizens can return to villages and farms.

“This is a precondition of the recovery,” said Kulykiusky.

According to Landmine Monitor’s latest 2022 report, Cambodia and Ukraine listed among the nine countries with “massive” mine contamination, meaning they had more than 100 km2 of uncleared minefields. Cambodia is still contaminated with forgotten land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from three decades of war and internal conflicts that concluded in 1998, while the problem in Ukraine is a new one since the Russian invasion commenced in 2022.

Cambodia’s leading agency for landmine and UXO disposal, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), earlier reported that it had disposed 499,069 landmines (487,203 anti-personnel, 9,940 anti-tank and 1,926 improvised mines) and 1,967,875 UXO items between 1992 and 2014.

As a result, Cambodian deminers are among the world’s most experienced, and several thousand have been deployed the past decade under United Nations auspices to assist demining operations in Africa and the Middle East.

Despite these impressive figures, work for CMAC looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, given that approximately six million landmines are believed to have been laid during the civil war.

In Southeast Asia, hundreds of people continue to be maimed or killed each year by mines and UXO. At least six Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries – Burma, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – are forced to deal with the consequences of past indiscriminate military and insurgent use of these weapons.

For example, the United States dropped over two million tonnes of munitions on Laos between 1964 and 1973 to cut off North Vietnamese supply lines through its shared border with South Vietnam, giving it the unfortunate distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world. It is believed that as much as a third of these weapons failed to detonate, leaving its people still vulnerable today.

by Jr Ng