Mines and explosive remnants of 30 years of conflict injure around 200 Cambodians a year and continue to contaminate hundreds of square kilometres of land.
The precise extent of contamination is not known, but 2009 estimates suggested at least 640 square kilometres of land contained antipersonnel mines.
Australia has been contributing to mine action in Cambodia since soon after conflict ended in the 1990s. Australia has maintained a focus on clearing land and helping survivors. Since 2006 Australia has helped clear 35 square kilometres of contaminated land to safe, productive use in the most mine affected provinces. This has directly benefited more than 60,000 people by improving their access to land for agriculture, markets, education and health services. The death and injury toll has halved in same period.
Through the latest funding initiative – Clearing for Rresults – Australia is helping Cambodia take greater ownership of activities, integrate them into government programs and sustain the effort for years to come by improving efficiency.
Australia has committed $6.2 million over three years (2011-2014) to Clearing for Results, a multi-donor fund administered by the United Nations Development Programme.
Clearing for Results has strengthened the capacity of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority to manage a decentralised clearance system to transparently prioritise mine clearance tasks in accordance with community development priorities.
The program helped the authority to develop and implement a National Mine Action Strategy, baseline survey and land release policy/standards which have the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of future clearance. The authority’s regulation, monitoring and quality assurance capacity has also been strengthened.
The authority is now managing more of the Clearing For Results demining resources by developing terms of reference, assessing project proposals and monitoring demining activities to increase compliance with national mine action systems and standards.
Clearing for Results also supports demining operations by the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and survey activities by demining operators including Halo Trust. It also supports awareness-raising on land mines, explosive remnants of war and cluster munitions, through community activities and the arts.
The clearance activities since January 2011 have focussed on the heavily contaminated provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin. Australia has helped clear 8.9 square kilometres of land benefiting 22,000 people who can safely farm, construct homes and build roads, irrigation, schools and pagodas. Casualties in these provinces fell from 126 in 2009 to 98 in 2011.
Holistic approach to supporting survivors
Landmines and explosive remnants of war have killed or injured more than 63 000 people since 1979. The thousands of survivors require ongoing assistance to meet their rehabilitation needs. People with disability in Cambodia are among the poorest—most live below the poverty line.
Cambodia has integrated victim assistance into broader national disability policies and planning to ensure disability inclusion across all ministries and sectors.
Australia is supporting Cambodia to implement the National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities including Landmine and Explosive Remnants of War Survivors, adopted in July 2009. This plan will assist Cambodia to meet its victim assistance obligations under the Mine Ban Convention. Responsibility for implementing the plan rests with the Disability Action Council, in consultation with key actors in the disability sector, mine survivors and other persons with disability.
Reference: Clearing for results