PHNOM PENH , Dec. 18 KYODO
Cambodia said Thursday it will seek international support to extend its land mine-clearing operations until 2020. In a roundtable discussion organized by the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Som Sotha, secretary general of the Mine Action Authority, said that due to the number of mined fields remaining in the country an extension is a must.
He said Cambodia began to clear landmines in 1992 and since then more than 800,000 land mines and 1.5 million pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn across 500 million square meters have been cleared. According to the Ottawa Convention, of which Cambodia is a signatory, Cambodia was supposed to clear its land mines and the unexploded ordnance by January 2010, 10 years after it signed the convention.
But with mines and other explosives still in more than 2,000 square kilometers, Cambodia will need at least until to 2020, he said. Millions of land mines have been planted in Cambodia since 1967 and accidents caused by land mines and unexploded ordnance are still common, killing or maiming about 400 people every year. Still, about 50 percent of the land covered by land mines and unexploded ordnance has been cleared and many Cambodians have become among of the world's most experienced demining experts.
KyodoDecember 18, 2008