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Japan and Cambodia to share mine clearance knowledge in Ukraine

Photo: Heng Sinith Associated Press Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (left) and her Cambodian counterpart Sok Chenda Sophea (right)

Soheng Cheang – Associated Press Phnom Penh,

Published yesterday at 7:57 p.m.

  • Asia

Japan's Foreign Minister announced on Saturday a joint project with Cambodia to share mine clearance knowledge and technology with countries around the world, including Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Yoko Kamikawa made the comments during a visit to the Cambodian Mine Clearance Center, established in the 1990s at the end of the country's decades of civil war. Southeast Asian countries. It aims to combat approximately four to six million landmines and other unexploded ordnance scattered in nature.

“Cambodia, which has consistently made progress in demining its own country, is now a leader in mine action globally,” she noted, adding that Japan has always cooperated in demining the Cambodia since the civil war.

Cambodian deminers are among the most experienced in the world and several thousand of them have been dispatched over the past decade under the auspices of the UN to work in Africa and the Middle East. Cambodia in 2022 began training Ukrainian deminers, who also suffer from a high density of landmines and other unexploded ordnance as Russia's two-year invasion drags on.

“As part of concrete cooperation under the Japan-Cambodia Landmine Initiative, Japan will provide large-scale assistance for humanitarian mine action in Ukraine,” said Ms. Kamikawa. Next week we will provide Ukraine with a large mine-clearing machine, and next month here in Cambodia we will train Ukrainian personnel on how to operate the machine. »

The non-governmental organization Landmine Monitor, in its 2022 report, listed Cambodia and Ukraine among nine countries with “massive” mine contamination , meaning they had more than 100 square kilometers of uncleared land.

Since the end of the fighting in Cambodia, nearly 20,000 people have been killed and approximately 45,000 were injured by explosive remnants of the war, although the average annual death toll fell from several thousand to fewer than 100.

Despite a very active demining program, many dangerous munitions remain in place, representing a danger for villagers.

Cambodia's training of Ukrainian deminers, in Poland as well as in Cambodia, came after former Prime Minister Hun Sen – in an unusual move for a country that usually aligns with Russia and China – condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, declaring that ” Cambodia is always against any country that invades another country.”

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Cambodia was one of nearly 100 U.N. member countries that co-sponsored a resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

Several other countries, including the United States United and Germany, have already provided mine clearance assistance to Ukraine.

Ms. Kamikawa also spoke with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet and with Hun Sen, his father who resigned last year after 38 years in power.

She signed agreements with her Cambodian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sok Chenda Sophea, for a preferential loan from Tokyo of up to 8.3 billion yen ($70.36 million) for the modernization of the highway between the capital Phnom Penh and the Thai border, and on non-repayable aid of up to 386 million yen ($3.27 million) to enable young administrative officials to study in Japan, said a statement from the Japanese Embassy.

Minister Kamikawa will then travel to the Philippines, where she and Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara will hold talks on Monday with their Filipino counterparts. They are expected to discuss signing a mutual defense pact that would allow each country to deploy troops on the other's territory.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116