Friday, 11 February 2011

CMAC Mine Risk Education (MRE) teams to raise awareness of mines, ERW and Cluster Munitions for the communities in Prah Vihear

Thursday, 10 February 2011_CMAC is deploying special tasked force to Preah Vihear province to conduct risk educations of Mine/ERW in particular Cluster Munitions for residents and displaced communities in conflict areas of Cambodia. This is a quick emergency response to raise the communities’ awareness of Mine/ERW risk and preventative actions to avoid accidents, noting the significant amount of people have been displaced and the confirmed evidences of Cluster Munitions used by the Thai Military on Cambodia.

An immediate preventative measure is being taken by CMAC to quickly deploy Mine/UXO Risk Education (MRE) teams to begin a massive rapid campaign for the populations affected by the four day clash between Thailand and Cambodia that took place from the 4th to 7th February this year. CMAC had verified and confirmed the use of Cluster Munitions by the Thai military to bombard Cambodia. During the cross fire, there identified evidence of heavy artilleries such as 105MM, 130MM and 155MMused by Thai military, and CMAC experts have verified and confirmed that these artilleries contained Cluster Munitions including M35, M42 and M46 types.

As an emergency response, CMAC is deploying a number team of multi-skilled experts Mine Risk Education to Preah Vihear to alert the communities of the risk and equip them with the knowledge to keep them from harm’s way. Teams are posting announcements and leaflets to provide information to help the communities identifying mines, unexploded ordnances (UXO) and in particular Cluster munitions. Teams will also conduct sessions of training to educate the populations on the risks and appropriate course of actions to be taken when come across dangerous items.

A lot of attentions have also been directed towards children as they are a high risk group, more prone to have accidents due to their limited knowledge and awareness of the issues.
A number of CMAC Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) expert teams are also being installed in the area to operate in hand with the MRE teams to provide quick rapid responses to emergency requests from the communities. The EOD experts will address technical aspects dealing with mine, UXO and Cluster munitions items.

Cluster Munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched weapons that dispense smaller munitions, a cluster of bomblets, a type of explosive weapon which scatters sub-munitions ("bomblets") over an area. During the attack, because of their dispersing bomblets, they strike indiscriminately, especially over populated areas. In the aftermath, unexploded cluster bomblets continue to cause harms on the populations long after the conflict has ended.

H.E Heng Ratana expressed in his grave statement that: “It is a sad to see that Thai Military are using Cluster Munitions. I could not emphasize strong enough how serious the problem of Cluster Munitions can be both at time of attack and in the aftermath.” “The most pressing priorities now for us at this point,” he added “is to let the people in the area know of the risk of landmines/UXO and also Cluster Munitions so that they can take precautions especially as some communities had to move from one area to another to seek safety shelters from the fighting.

It is worth noting that Cambodia and Thailand have not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions which prohibits the use of cluster munitions. However, Cambodia had been addressing the issues of Cluster Munitions since the beginning of mine action in the country. CMAC is a national institution in Cambodia who had been in a forefront in this issue, working with the supports from the Cambodian Government and cooperative partners such as Handicap International_Belgium (HI-B), Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), and Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) to clear UXO and cluster munitions in the affected provinces. In the beginning of 2011, with the cooperation and supports from NPA, CMAC is implementing Explosive Remnants of War/Cluster Munitions Survey and Land Release project which aim to enable Cambodia to obtain accurate and updated baseline data of landmine and ERW/Cluster Munitions contaminations.

H.E Heng Ratana, would like to take this opportunity to express high regards and gratitude for the CMAC staff and management who are taking on this task to go into conflict zone and conduct mine risk educations to the people, for the people. They are performing beyond their normal duty; however their bravery is nothing new for the CMAC mission that stays true in their hearts, working to save lives and support Cambodia for its growth and development.

Area of North-west of Cambodia, along the Thai-Cambodia border, had already been identified as a heavily mined zone. The area had been long-term battle grounds between warring factions during decades of war since the 1960s. CMAC continues to work alongside the Royal Government of Cambodia to address issues and problems that the country may face.

CMAC’s Mine/ERW Risk Awareness Poster on Cluster Munitions _ To be used in Preah Vihear February 2011

Item was found recently in Svay Chrum Village, Kantout Commune, Chuam Khsan District, Prah Vihear province, Cambodia

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