Australia a champion of Cambodian demining: CMAA
Australia has been a major contributor to mine clearance in Cambodia over the past 28 years, saving a considerable proportion of Cambodians from the scourge of landmines and elevating the Kingdom’s demining operations to top international acclaim, according to the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA).
CMAA first vice-president Ly Thuch said that Australia was one of the key supporters of the peacebuilding process in Cambodia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, playing a leading role in UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) intervention, with retired Australian General John Sanderson leading UNTAC’s military component.
Since then, Australia has continued to support Cambodia “towards security and revitalisation” with substantial outpourings of humanitarian assistance, including in mine action, he said.
Thuch made the remark on April 28 at an exhibition held in the capital to mark the 30th anniversary of UNTAC and as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Cambodia.
The exhibition is open from 7:00am to 9:00pm every day from April 29 to May 28.
Thuch said: “Since 1994, Australia has significantly contributed to mine action in Cambodia, saved many lives from the dangers of mines, and provided safety to rural communities to improve their livelihoods.
“This is a contribution that one should be proud of,” he said, in an apparent nod to Sanderson, who held the rank of lieutenant general during his tenure as UNTAC commander.
Thuch underscored that Cambodia had become a leader in mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance, as acknowledged by the international community as well as the UN.
He also pointed out that since 2006, Cambodia has deployed 7,899 troops on UN peacekeeping missions, who undertake operations such as mine clearance and engineering.
“This is an outstanding achievement that has led to the Cambodian national flag stand among the flags of other countries that contribute troops to these UN missions. Looking back 30 years ago, we were accepting UN forces for a peacekeeping mission on our land, which had been looming full of disputes and confrontation,” he said.
Thuch added that in their 70 years of diplomatic relations, ties between Cambodia and Australia have remained “good and close”, defined by reciprocal high-level visits and strong cooperation in a variety of fields such as trade, investment, agriculture, education, mine clearance, healthcare and people-to-people relationships.
By Ry Sochan
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