(CAAI News Media)
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The area cleared of land mines and unexploded remnants of war reached 31 square km for the first 11 months of 2009, surpassing the combination of the previous years, which hovered at around 27 square km, local media reported on Friday.
data from the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) said the increase was due to a combination of training in new methods of mine clearance and a flexible application of clearance tools, the Cambodia Daily quoted Oum Sang Onn, CMAC's director of operations and planning, as saying.
After years of practice, including a burst of training in 2008,CMAC teams are now skilled at using everything from mine-detection dogs to bulldozer-like bush cutters that unearth and safety detonate mines and UXOs, Oum Sang Onn said.
Although the amount of land demined increased last year, the number of mines that were actually cleared fell from 26,206 separate mines in 2008 to 18,046 for the first 11 months of 2009. Oum Sang Onn said this may be because most of the heavily-mined areas of the country have already been cleared.
In contrast, the number of cleared UXOs increased from 114,101 in 2008 to 122,557 in the first 11 months of 2009, which Oum Sang Onn attributed to efforts to teach villagers to report locations of mines and UXO, and of more UXO-clearance teams being deployed beginning in 2008.
The northwest is the country's most heavily mined region, with Battambang province having the most, Oum Sang Onn said. UXO are spread across the country, he said, a result of bombing in the east and ground fighting in the west.
Casualties of mines and UXO have declined steadily in recent years, according to the Cambodia Mine/UXO Victim Information System, falling from 450 in 2006, to 352 in 2007, to 271 in 2008. Figures for 2009 have yet to be published.
Editor: Lin Zhi