2018 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Cambodia

Report
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

FUNDING FY15 FY16 FY17 FY93–17 TOTAL
DOS NADR - CWD 8,307 8,522 4,300 89,445
DOS Other 0 0 0 4,943
CDC 0 0 0 100
DoD 2,379 1,717 1,969 24,063
USAID 500 303 0 15,084
COUNTRY TOTAL 11,186 10,542 6,269 133,635

Dollars in thousands

CAMBODIA

Nearly three decades of armed conflict has left Cambodia seriously affected by landmines and UXO, and kept poor communities impoverished by limiting their access to farmland. The Khmer Rouge, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), and Vietnamese and Thai militaries laid extensive minefields during the Indochina wars, Vietnamese occupation, and factional fighting that ended in 1999. However, casualty figures have decreased significantly from 83 in 2016 to 58 in 2017.

Date: 2018 Description: HALO interviews Cambodian villagers during a non-technical survey. © Photo courtesy of HALO

The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reports that Cambodia’s anti-personnel mine problem is concentrated in, but not limited to, 21 northwestern districts along the border with Thailand that account for the great majority of mine casualties. Contamination includes the remains of the 1,046 kilometer (650 mile)-long K-5 mine belt installed along the Thai border in the mid-1980s to block insurgent infiltration and ranks among the densest contamination in the world.

Additionally, U.S. air and artillery strikes during the Vietnam War left behind heavy concentrations of UXO in the eastern and northeastern areas of the country along the border with Vietnam. The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) has worked with international development partners and operators to develop the National Mine Action Strategy 2017–2025, which is intended to be the roadmap for releasing all known mine-contaminated areas by 2025. Cambodia now has the right technical tools in place to meet this goal, but declining international contributions could jeopardize it.

From 1993 to 2017, the U.S. government invested more than $133.6 million for CWD programs in Cambodia that cleared mines and UXO, provided mine risk education, assisted the RCAF with destruction and PSSM of SA/LW and ammunition, and supported national capacity development.

In 2017, the Department of State supported the following implementing partners:

  • Golden West, in partnership with RCAF, supported an explosive harvesting system and the development of appropriate PSSM. In a joint project with the Department of Defense, Golden West’s underwater EOD capacity development team mentored, trained, and sustained the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) Dive Unit. Golden West is also continuing a global engineering initiative, an accountability program for demolition charges in Cambodia, and joint research and development with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States) and Singapore University.
  • HALO provided survey and clearance assets in some of the densest minefields along the K-5 mine belt in western Cambodia.
  • Landmine Relief Fund supported two Cambodia Self Help Demining EOD teams conducting clearance of small villages in northwestern Cambodia.
  • MAG provided survey and clearance assets in western Cambodia and cluster munition clearance assets in eastern Cambodia. MAG also partnered with the Department of Defense HD R&D Program to perform technology testing through survey and clearance in Ratanakiri Province.
  • NPA collaborated with CMAC to support Demining Unit Five, focused on the survey and clearance of U.S.-origin UXO contamination in eastern Cambodia, and conducted its own cluster munition survey activities in eastern Cambodia while supporting information management support and national capacity development of the CMAA.
  • Spirit of Soccer (SOS) delivered mine risk education to primary school children through soccer coaching activities and sport.

With funding from the Department of Defense:

  • HD R&D provided new technologies that have been used in the clearance of 40,332 mines and UXO in 25.3 million square meters (6,252 acres) of land in Cambodia to date. These included two Traxx remote area preparation platforms, wet soil sifting buckets, the VMX10 UXO detection system, and an aerial survey system. Additionally, HD R&D continued to support the Mini MineWolf; Minehound dual sensor handheld detector; Piranha minefield area reduction and technical survey system; Badger tracked excavator; Bearcat vegetation clearance system; Quadcopter aerial survey system; Scorpion UXO detection system; and two Rambo demining team support vehicles that it provided in years past. With funding and support from both the Department of State and HD R&D, HALO and MAG continued their operations of the dual-sensor HSTAMIDS in manual mine-clearance of densely cluttered minefields. HSTAMIDS operators have accurately discriminated 20.8 million detections as metallic clutter rather than mines, each discrimination saving 10–15 minutes of excavation.
  • USPACOM continued assistance to the government of Cambodia to enhance humanitarian mine action capacity. During FY17, USPACOM conducted the following programs: Phase I EOD/Blast Trauma and DeMiner, Phase II EOD/Blast Trauma, Phase I, Phase II Deminer, Phase III Deminer, and Phase III EOD/Blast Trauma train-the-trainer.