Cambodia was the first country in which NPA established a demining programme, beginning in 1992 in response to the large number Cambodian refugees repatriating over the border from Thailand who were being killed or injured by landmines.
NPA’s continues to strive for a Cambodia where landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war pose no risk to people and are no longer an obstacle to development. Since 2013, NPA has been conducting survey and clearance operations in north-eastern Cambodia to address cluster munition contamination. In a long-standing partnership with Cambodia’s largest national NPA works to rid the remaining eastern provinces of dangerous cluster munition remnants.
Cambodia remains one of the most heavily landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) impacted countries in the world. Protracted internal and regional conflict between the mid-1960s to late 1990s left behind an extensive landmine and unexploded cluster munition legacy that continues to pose a risk to peoples lives. The provinces bordering Thailand are heavily contaminated with landmines, while the majority of eastern provinces are severely affected by cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.
Since the end of hostilities in Cambodia, more than 64,000 people have been killed or maimed by landmines or other ERW. Casualties have dropped significantly in recent years, with total accidents numbering less than 60 in 2018. However, many local farmers and villagers still use and farm their land despite the presence of unexploded bombs out of necessity, with mine and cluster munition contamination affecting some of the poorest households in the country.
Today NPA’s Humanitarian Disarmament programme works on a number of levels to address cluster munition and landmine contamination in Cambodia – as an operator conducting cluster munition survey and clearance in Ratanakiri province; as a partner to the largest national operator (Cambodian Mine Action Centre, CMAC) addressing cluster munitions and other ERW in eastern Cambodia provinces; and as an advisor to the national authority, CMAA. NPA has been working closely with the national authority to improve competence in planning and prioritising mine action interventions, quality management and information management systems, and gender mainstreaming, to ensure all mine action activities are conducted in a systematic and regulated manner country wide.
NPA is a leading innovator in mine action and constantly strives to develop and refine mine action methods to increase efficiency and effectiveness. NPA developed the Cluster Munition Remnant Survey (CMRS) methodology in Cambodia specifically for the south-east Asia context, which has recently been accepted as the national standard in Cambodia for surveying cluster munition contaminated land. NPA also trains explosive detection dogs to assist the survey and clearance of cluster munitions and other ERW at the Dog Training Facility in Siem Reap. The dogs and their handlers are integrated into clearance teams in Ratanakiri and have shown to significantly speed up the process of finding explosive remnants for removal and detonation by the NPA operators.