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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.