Cambodia to aid Sudan mine clearing

Cambodia is to send 130 soldiers to help clear landmines in war-torn Sudan.

15-20,000 people are killed or maimed by mines every year
15-20,000 people are killed or maimed by mines every year

Major-General Sem Sovanny, a Cambodian army officer, said: “It is time for us to help others. We will save some lives in Sudan by clearing mines.”

As one of the world’s most landmined countries, Cambodia has extensive experience in clearing mines.

Since three decades of civil war ended in 1998, an estimated 1.6 million landmines have been destroyed in Cambodia.

But millions remain and are responsible for hundreds of deaths and injuries every year.

The most dangerous area is the K5 mine belt, a 400-500m swathe of land that stretches for 700km along the country’s northwestern border.

Other random, overlapping areas of mines also exist – a legacy of the military practice of laying mines year after year as combatants retreated to safer ground after the rainy season.

Global problem

According to Landmine Monitor, Cambodia had spent $30 million on landmine destruction in 2004 alone.

The Cambodian soldiers will now help Sudan’s anti-mine efforts.

Due to the huge size of the African country, it is impossible to tell how many unexploded mines remain in the country.

Mines were used extensively during the two-decade long conflict between the Sudanese government and the southern-based rebels, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), that was ended by a truce last year.

“It is time for us to help others”

Sem Sovanny, Cambodian military official

The first Cambodian de-mining team should arrive in Sudan by the end of this month and the last by mid-April.

Figures from Landmine Monitor also showed that global mine casualties fell in 2005 but that 15-20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines every year.

Over 200,000 square kilometres of the word’s surface is believed to be contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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