PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia needs more than $400 million in aid to remove by 2025 all of the land mines that are a legacy of years of civil war, the country’s prime minister said Friday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a statement marking his nation’s Mine Awareness Day that the mines remain a threat and kill or maim nearly 100 people a year.
“These mines are not only inflicting tragedy on the lives of our people, but also holding them back from moving on with their lives and developing the country,” he said.
Cambodia has cleared about 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles) of mines, but nearly 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of land remains littered with the munitions, Hun Sen said.
Some 60,000 Cambodians have been killed or wounded by mines since they were first deployed in large numbers in 1979, when the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime was ousted from power and began 18 years of guerrilla warfare. Years of civil conflict, as well as bombing by the U.S. Air Force in the early 1970s, riddled the Cambodian landscape with an estimated 4 million to 6 million land mines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance.
Hun Sen said some 1.036 million anti-personnel mines, and 24,251 anti-tank mines, along with a huge quantity of other unexploded ordnance, has been removed from the ground and destroyed since demining operations began in 1992.
More than 4,000 people were reportedly killed and wounded in 1996 from land mines and other unrecovered ordnance, but by 2016, the number of dead and wounded had decreased to 83, he said.