Cambodia to send deminers to help train Ukrainians
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to send deminers to help train Ukrainians in clearing land mines planted by Russian forces during their invasion, the Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday.
Hun Sen made the commitment to send trainers, in collaboration with Japan, during a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.
Cambodia became one of the world’s most heavily mined countries during almost three decades of war that ended in 1998, causing great risk to civilians, especially in rural areas. Since then, a large number of mines and other unexploded ordnance have been removed and destroyed, greatly reducing the number of casualties. Cambodian deminers have become among the world’s most experienced, and in the past decade several thousand have been sent under United Nations auspices to work in Africa and the Middle East.
Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, said in a Facebook post that after consultation with its Japanese partners, his agency would send its first team to Ukraine in early December, and a second team may be sent in the first quarter of next year.
Zelenskyy welcomed the offer of deminers, and he and Hun Sen agreed to appoint ambassadors to each other’s country, the ministry statement said.
Several other countries, including the United States and Germany, have already provided Ukraine with assistance in demining.
In an unusual move for a nation that usually aligns itself with fellow former members of the socialist bloc, such as Russia and China, Hun Sen has condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “Cambodia is always against any country that invades another country.”
Cambodia was one of nearly 100 U.N. member countries that co-sponsored a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Two of Cambodia’s neighbors that were also in the socialist bloc, Vietnam and Laos, abstained. Hun Sen more recently condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory, and according to the ministry statement, expressed concern over recent attacks on Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine.
New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a report in June, charged that Russia was using land mines “that are causing civilian casualties and suffering, as well as disrupting food production.”
”Russia is the only party to the conflict known to have used banned antipersonnel mines, while both Russia and Ukraine have used anti-vehicle mines,“ it said.