A workshop hosted in Phnom Penh aimed at sharing knowledge to assist the Philippines to enhance their explosive hazards management capacity concluded on Thursday. The event was proclaimed a ‘resounding success’ by Mr. Prum Suonpraseth, Executive Director of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC), which co-hosted the event with the Fondation Suisse de Déminage (FSD) France, and the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines.
This event has brought together representatives from mine action programs from around the ASEAN member states to share their considerable knowledge and experience with our neighbors from the Philippines who are in the midst of developing their own explosive hazard management mechanisms, particularly in Western Mindanao. It resulted in a detailed road map of possible future policy, operational and capacity development activities to be considered by the Philippines authorities. Mr Suonpraseth stated.
The workshop which ran for two and a half days, was opened with an address by H.E. Mr. Ly Thuch, Vice President 1 and Senior Minister, Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, who was joined by H.E. Ms. Amelita Aquino, Ambassador of the Philippines to Cambodia and H.E. Mr. Hussein Munoz, Minister and Member of Parliament, Ministry of Public Order and Safety, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). H.E Mr. Ly Thuch stated: We often speak of regional cooperation, and today represents a tangible demonstration and a firm commitment to such cooperation. I recall back in 2012, Cambodia initiated the idea of establishing a Regional Humanitarian Mine Action Centre, mindful that the maintenance of human security is an integral part of the ASEAN Community Building efforts. Thus, ARMAC was created in line with the spirit of the APSC Blueprint that seeks to ensure that all member states of ASEAN, and indeed, all sectors of the society, benefit from the ASEAN process. The workshop featured presentations from the national mine action authorities of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam, focusing on international best practice and lessons learned in the establishment of national and regional coordination mechanisms. There was also a case study presented on the development of the Afghanistan mine action program over the past twenty years. This type of knowledge sharing is exactly the type of regional cooperation that ARMAC was founded for. Mr. Suonpraseth added.
The workshop was focused on the Bangsamoro Region of Western Mindanao Island which has suffered from of decades of conflict, before a peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front concluded in 2014 with the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. As a result of the conflict, items of unexploded ordnance still remain littered around the region, posing an ongoing hazard to the local inhabitants. The workshop was funded by the European Union.
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
Phnom Penh: 4th of April 2022, the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC), in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Fund, marked the 2022 International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action by acknowledging the progress ASEAN Member States, and all the partners and Friends of ARMAC have made in addressing landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). However, they acknowledged that while the threat of explosive ordnance remains in the ASEAN Member States, so too must efforts continue to keep these dangers in public consciousness through consistent and regular Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) and awareness raising.
COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL MINE AWARENESS AND ASSISTANCE IN MINE ACTION DAY INTHE ASEAN REGION– 4 APRIL 2022
The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC), with support from the Government of Japan, hosted an event to commemorate International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April 2022 in Phnom Penh. The event commenced with a knowledge sharing session, with international experts discussing innovations in the field of Explosive Ordnance Risk Education or EORE. World Education, Mine Mark Foundation and MAG International presented innovative projects in the field.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
At the conclusion of workshop, distinguished guests of the diplomatic community assembled to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. In her keynote address, Her Excellency Mrs. Eat Sophea, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia underscored that, “the campaign to enhance mine awareness remain a crucial tool not only to educate people of their danger and long-term impacts to affected communities, but also to maintain mine-free and victim assistance effort high on the national and international agendas”.
His Excellency Mr. Chiba Akira, Ambassador of Japan to the ASEAN also addressed the event, highlighting the nearly 50 years of cooperation between Japan and ASEAN and the support that Japan has afforded both to ARMAC and broader mine action efforts within Cambodia and the region. He emphasized the importance of regional approaches and international organizations, given the current turbulence in international relations. He said: The political and security dynamics around the world have been rapidly changing, and ASEAN has become more important than ever in coping with challenges we face.
Diplomatic representatives from ASEAN member states also addressed the event, with His Excellency Mr. U Thit Linn Ohn, Ambassador of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and His Excellency Mr. Panyarak Poolthup, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Thailand, both highlighting achievements and progress made in the mine action field that have recently been accomplished within their respective states. Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority Secretary General Mr. Prum Sophakmonkol spoke on behalf of Cambodia The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is marked annually on 4 April across the world. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly called on all states to commemorate this date and continue their efforts to support the development of national mine-action capacities in countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Explosive ordnance (EO) unfortunately still constitutes a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, and an impediment to social and economic development in five of the ten ASEAN Member States.
The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) has just released its 2021 Annual Report.
The report features sections on the Viet Nam’s Chairmanship of the Steering Committee of ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC), the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations, programme highlights, how the programme is tracking against its 2019-2021 work plan, financial updates, and plans beyond 2021.
Like many entities the COVID-19 pandemic impacted ARMAC but also drove a lot of innovation in terms of the use of virtual format tools to make user experience, sharing of knowledge and expertise exchange, seminars and large meetings feasible.
The establishment of the Friends of ARMAC (FOA) is a key new initiative for 2021, elevating ARMAC’s interconnection with current and prospective partners enabling the organisation to streamline resource mobilisation for ARMAC and ASEAN Member States in need.
One of the key new activities for 2021 is the establishment of the victim assistance stakeholders in building strong networks and providing adequate assistance to vulnerable women, men, girls and boys in the region. In addition, ARMAC will be potentially launching the “Build Regional Community of Practice in Mine Action among the ASEAN Member States” programme, potentially commencing in late 2021.
On 13 December 2021, the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) team led by its Executive Director (ED) Prum Suonpraseth paid a courtesy call on H.E. Mr. Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Malaysia to the Kingdom of Cambodia. During the meeting, ARMAC ED gave an update on the progress of ARMAC operations and projects in the region. In his presentation, Ambassador Hashim highlighted the strong connection between the Southeast Asian region and Malaysia, and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ARMAC by engaging further support in the mine action sector. Both parties exchanged views of future plans. ARMAC ED also thanked the Ambassador and the people of Malaysia for their continued support to ARMAC.
Courtesy call with Embassy of the Republic of Cuba
10 December 2021: Follow-up working session with Ambassador Liurka Rodriguez Barrios of the Republic of Cuba based in Phnom Penh to explore potential areas of collaboration between Cuba and ARMAC where Cuban expertise in health science and in other areas could potentially be of humanitarian interests to support communities of ERW victims and survivors.
The Embassy of the Republic of Cuba is of the members of “Friends of ARMAC” Network.
MoU Signing Ceremony between ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center and Singapore Health Services “Enhance Victim Assistance Programme in the ASEAN Member States”
SingHealth partners with ARMAC to provide psychosocial trainings in mine/ERW-affected ASEAN member states
The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) and Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 9 December 2021 to work together on the project, ‘Enhance Victim Assistance Programme in the ASEAN Member States’. The MoU will allow SingHealth to conduct needs assessment on psychosocial supports and provide psychosocial trainings to landmine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) victims in affected ASEAN Member States such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. ARMAC Executive Director Mr. Prum Suonpraseth and SingHealth Group Director of the International Collaboration Office Professor Tan Hiang Khoon signed the MoU. The ceremony was presided over by H.E. Mr. Pengiran Kasmirhan Pengiran Tahir, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Brunei Darussalam to the Kingdom of Cambodia, and Chair of ARMAC Steering Committee
The Visit of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations to ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC)
Phnom Penh: 12 November 2021, His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Khaled Khiari, the UN Assistant Secretary-General of Middle East Asia and the Pacific, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations visited the ARMAC Headquarters, along with the UN-related delegations. ARMAC Acting Executive Director (ED), Ms. ChanthanaSengthong provided an overview of ARMAC’s ongoing and pipeline projects and their challenges. The potential partnership between ARMAC and the UN agencies was suggested by both parties, to enhance regional cooperation and to achieve sustainable institutionalization. H.E. Mr. Khaled Khiari expressed his appreciation for the visit to ARMAC and showed his interest to understand further landmine/ERW issues in the ASEAN region and efforts to address them. He accepted the proposal to enhance the center’s capacity/expertise and delivered positive messages supporting ARMAC to take a more prominent role in humanitarian mine action work in the region.
Potential Collaboration Between ARMAC and JICA Cambodia
Phnom Penh: 27 October 2021 – ARMAC Executive Director (ED) and Management staff met with JICA Deputy Chief Representative Mr. Shinji Yahagawa, and JICA Technical Advisor to CMA Mr. Hayashi Akihita to explore future opportunities for collaboration.
During the meeting, ARMAC ED gave an overview of the organization‘s ongoing and pipeline projects. He also provided examples on which areas can ARMAC and JICA possibly engage with to promote regional cooperation, and partnership.
JICA shared that their experience on South-South Cooperation using Cambodia and Lao PDR exemplified successful partnerships between Japan and ASEAN countries. As a center of excellence under the ASEAN Security Cooperation, both ARMAC and JICA agreed that that ARMAC’s role is to broker between stakeholders/partners in the region to widen the scope of South-South cooperation in the mine action sector.
A video presentation showing ARMAC’s engagements in the last 4 years was also shown.
ARMAC Joints Collaboration with GICHD to Conduct Study on Gender Equality and Empowerment in Mine Action
Phnom Penh, 21 October 2021 —The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) is pleased to announce its joint collaboration with the Geneva International Center for Human Demining (GICHD) to conduct a study/research on gender equality and empowerment in mine action in the ASEAN region, more specifically a study on the mine action sector’s approach towards the monitoring and reporting of the gendered impact of land release conducted in the region with country case studies. The project will examine the overarching question of how can mine action stakeholders (donors, national authorities, and stakeholders) better understand and communicate the impact of clearance activities on gender equality and inclusion in the results chain and reporting. The outcome of the project is a joint GICHD-ARMAC paper which will be presented in a regional forum on September 2022. The study is one of the deliverables for the project, Strengthen Gender Equality and Empowerment in Mine Action in the Mine/Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) affected ASEAN Member States which is financed by the Government of Italy.