News story

UK Government to increase mine clearance in Cambodia and Laos

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) awarded contract to remove and destroy mines in Cambodia and Laos

The UK Government will reduce the daily threat of injury to more than 62,000 men, women and children across at least 83 villages in Cambodia, a country which still has one of the highest casualty rates from mines or unexploded ordnance, the Secretary of State for International Development announced today, Thursday 9th December 2010.

The Department for International Development has appointed Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to remove and destroy thousands of mines or unexploded ordnance and run a local education programme to teach local communities to identify and report mines to local authorities.

The contract was awarded to MAG following an open and competitive tender under standard UK procurement rules. In addition to their capability to clear mines and ordnance, MAG scored highly in their plans to help communities recover from the threat of mines.

This funding will clear and release more than 9,000,000 square metres of land in Cambodia and Laos, benefiting at least 200,000 people across both countries.

As well as saving lives and reducing casualties, the funding will make journeys to schools and hospitals safer, and release land to benefit local economies and open the way for aid agencies to support agricultural expansion, schools and roads.

Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

“Thousands of people still live with the aftermath of conflict as they face an uneasy and dangerous daily existence under the threat of permanent injury or death.

“The UK Government is committed to continuing its efforts to help men, women and children live their lives free from the threat of landmines and to prevent further casualties.

“Mines Advisory Group and their partners will not just set people free from the constant fear of injury or death, but also help them escape poverty by improving access to schools and farmland.”

Despite years of peace, 244 people in Cambodia and 134 in Laos were killed or injured last year alone by anti-personnel or anti-vehicle mines, munitions, improvised explosive devices or other explosive remnants from decades of conflict. The majority of these casualties were caused by discarded and forgotten munitions.

In Cambodia, MAG will work in the five most heavily mined districts on the North Western border. These districts are the most fertile for rice farming, however the threat of explosive devices makes agricultural land unusable and blocks routes to local markets or essential services for local people and aid workers alike.

In Laos, MAG will work in four of the poorest and most contaminated provinces - Khammouane, Sekong, Xieng Khouang and Savannakhet.

MAG’s teams will work closely with local communities to identify priority areas and create a detailed map of the contaminated area.

Mobile teams will be ready respond quickly to surface mines and unexploded ordinance reported by local communities.

The Department for International Development will fund this work through a new £6 million contract to MAG over the next two and half years.