Excellency Ly Thuch, Senior Minister and First Vice President of the CMAA
Excellency Pablo Kang, Ambassador of Australia to the Royal Government of Cambodia
Excellency Sem Sovanny, Second Vice President of the CMAA
Excellency Mao Thonin, Governor of Pursat Province
Excellency Prum Sophakmonkol, Secretary General of CMAA
Ms Cristine Munduate, Country Director, UNICEF Cambodia
Excellencies, ladies, gentlemen and school students
I am very happy to join you here today to mark National Mine Awareness Day. Under the leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, and with the hard work and support of HE LY Thuch, HE Sem Sovanny and HE Prum Monkol, Cambodia has been made progressively safer and more prosperous. We’re honoured to be joined by the Australian Ambassador, Pablo Kang. Great that the Ambassador can see first hand how the support of Australian people has saved lives and built prosperity here in Pursat and throughout the landmine infected areas. My sincere thanks to the Government of Australia and to the Governments of Canada, Switzerland, Korea and other nations who have supported land mine clearance in Cambodia.
My respect to HE Mao Thonin, Governor of Pursat Province. It’s a great pleasure to be in Pursat and to see how fast and how well the province is progressing, as the last of the landmines are removed. I’m very pleased to be joining my colleague Cristine Munduate, the Country Director of UNICEF Cambodia who has led the work on mine awareness in schools and communities. We’re joined
Although armed conflict in Cambodia ended two decades ago, the consequences are still being felt. The total number of casualties caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war has reached nearly 64,900. But there is some good news. The number of annual casualties has been brought down from 4,300 in 1996 to 76 in 2019. We need to bring that number to zero, and we need to do that by 2025.
All people have the right to live in security, and not fear their next step. Mine action clears paths and creates safe ground on which homes can be built and land can be farmed. It gives people and communities new horizons and hope. The removal of mines and explosive remnants of war lays the foundation for durable recovery and sustainable development: land can be farmed, roads reopened, schools attended, and livelihoods earned. In short, lives can return to normal.
For more than 20 years, the United Nations has helped States to free themselves from the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war. In Cambodia, the United Nations has worked with the Royal Government of Cambodia and the international community to address the problems since 1992. In the Clearing for Results programme, started in 2006, the UN has helped CMAA in clearing 239 km2 of land, so that 1 million people can have safe grounds for schools, farms, roads and homes.
The Royal Government of Cambodia has set a vision of a mine free Cambodia by 2025. This vision is ambitious, but achievable if the Royal Government of Cambodia, United Nations, development partners, all operators and local authorities continue to provide supports and cooperate to the fullest extent possible. I’m very pleased to hear that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces may be lending their support to clearing the remaining landmines. With the support of the army and with increasingly more sophisticated and effective methods of land mine clearance, we can achieve the dream of a mine free Cambodia by 2025.
Early this year, UNDP Cambodia launched the fourth phase of the Clearing for Results project to support the Government efforts to make Cambodia a mine-free nation by 2025. The project will continue support on mine clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance activities in the three provinces as well as support the ‘mine-free village policy’ to create pathways for accelerated development in villages that have been made mine free to address challenges in community development and reduce poverty among the most vulnerable households.
I thank Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority for their leadership, coordination, monitoring of the sector to ensure safe, effective and efficient mine action program. I pay tribute to the Cambodian women and men who show extraordinary bravery in mine clearance work. On this National Mine Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to scourge of landmines and explosive remnants of war and assisting those who have been harmed by their use.