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.
COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL MINE AWARENESS AND ASSISTANCE IN MINE ACTION DAY IN THE 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.