via CAAI News Media
February 17, 2010
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says it will take years to clear the once war-torn nation of landmines that endanger lives in nearly half of the country's villages.
An estimated four to six million landmines and other unexploded ordnance from more than three decades of armed conflict continue to maim or kill Cambodians each year.
Speaking to some 1,000 deminers at the handover of demining equipment from the Japanese government, Hun Sen said that some 670sq km of the country, or 46 per cent of its villages, still needs to be cleared of the explosives.
Since the setting up of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre 17 years ago, Cambodian and foreign deminers have destroyed 2.7 million mines and unexploded ordnance over about 520sq km.
Hun Sen said the number of mine casualties has dropped significantly but the explosives remained a major threat.
A report from Cambodian Red Cross said in 2004-2005 the number of victims was as high as 800 people per year but in 2008-2009, this number dropped to just over 200 victims annually.
At the ceremony, the Japanese government donated 588 mine detectors, 44 deep-search detectors, spare parts for mine clearance machines and a mobile repair unit. The equipment is worth about $US5.5 million ($A6.1 million).