Interview with His Excellency Ly Thuch, Senior Minister, Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA)

Q: What is the mission of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA)?

A: The mission of the CMAA is to plan, regulate, lead, coordinate and monitor humanitarian mine action activities in Cambodia on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Q: On what instruments/equipment can you count to reach your objectives?

A: The Royal Government of Cambodia is targeting a mine-free Cambodia by 2025. To achieve this target, the mine action sector in Cambodia needs financial support of about USD50 million per year (we currently received about USD30 million), additional deminers from the Royal Cambodian Army to support the current humanitarian deminers, and improved methodologies and technologies to clear land faster, cheaper and safer.

Q: What are the main objectives of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP)?

A: The NSDP 2019-2023 summarizes the key achievements and challenges during the implementation of the NSDP 2014-2018, together with the macro-economic framework for NSDP 2019-2023. In addition, the NSDP outlines policies and priority actions for 2019-2023 that relevant Ministries shall carry out. NSDP 2019-2023 has been formulated for the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV with the identification of mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of the Result Framework, and to contribute to the achievement of the Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030.

Q: How close are you to finally making Cambodia a “mine-free” country?

A: We have five years to make Cambodia mine-free by 2025. The remaining known mine contaminated land to be cleared is about 800 km2. If we can access what we need above, we can achieve the deadline.

Q: What activities does the Technical Working Group on Mine Action (TWG-MA) carry out? What are its main objectives?

A: The over-arching objective of the TWG-MA is to support RGC’s efforts to facilitate technical dialogue, coordinate and mobilize external assistance to implement sector strategies and plans. Specific objectives of TWG-MA are: a) To promote effective partnership dialogue at the technical level for coordinating and mobilizing external resources; b) To promote alignment of ODA support to TWG-MA priority activities; c) To serve as a follow-up mechanism for reviewing the progress of jointly identified activities that are included in the TWG-MA workplan and Joint Monitoring Indicators (JMIs); and d) To complement other partnership mechanisms including Provincial Partnership Dialogue and Sectoral Multi-stakeholder Dialogue.

CBRNe society visiting HE Ly Thuch at CMAA in Phnom Penh in January 2020

Q: What programs do you have in place in the field of victims’ assistance?

A: The Victim Assistance Department of CMAA plays a role as a coordinator amongst stakeholders for delivering any services to landmine/ERW survivors and produce an annual progress report on Victim Assistance submitted to APMBC and CCW. CMAA has carried out the victim assistance programs including: 1. Data Collection on new landmine/ERW victims for recoding on Cambodian Mine Victim Information System (CMVIS) and Quality of Life Survey on Landmine/ERW Survivors through CMAA volunteer survivor networks. 2. Provide emergency response and ongoing medical support to new landmine/ERW survivors across the country. 3. Rehabilitation by working closely with Physical Rehabilitation Centers for providing proper services to landmine/ERW survivors. 4. Psychological support by providing peer counseling to landmine/ERW survivors throughout our networks and corporate with the Ministry of Health. 5. Socio-Economic Inclusion by organizing a public forum for landline/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities, provide a grant to establish a small business, referral landmine/ERW survivors to receive vocational training, education, job placement for poverty reduction. 6. Legal Framework for supporting to landmine/ERW survivors by establishing NMAS 2018-2025, 3 years Implementation Work-Plan 2021-2023, Victim Assistance Work-Plan 2022-2025, and CMAS on VA.

Q: What recommendations/advices would you like to give to other professionals working in the field of demining?

A: A lot of work still can be done. There is a need to include mine action in the national development plan, to develop national capacity to address the mine problem, to establish methodologies to release land through non-technical survey and technical survey in addition to conventional clearance, but also to increase resource mobilization and address the problem as soon as possible. Delaying in addressing the problem will result in more casualties from mines. Q: Are there any specific technologies/equipment that could contribute to the mission of your organization?

A: We need a technology that can indicate us the boundaries of the minefields. This will help us to get the job done much faster and cheaper.

Q: Finally, would you like to share any additional thoughts?

A: Mine clearance should be ‘need-driven and people centered’; meaning addressing the needs of the affected people. In other word, empower communities living in mine-affected environment to prioritize minefields to be cleared to support their livelihood and development needs.

His Excellency Ly Thuch presently serves as the Senior Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Simultaneously, he also acts as the President of the National Committee for Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific as well as the First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMMA). During his long career in the Cambodian government His Excellency Thuch has held many key positions. His last position was the Vice-President of the National Committee for Disaster Management. He also formerly held two ministerial positions – the Minister for Rural Development and Vice-Minister for Environment – as well as having acted as the Chief of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister. He formerly served in the Cambodian National Assembly, where he also held the role of the Chairman of the Commission on Economy, Planning, Investment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment and Water Sources. His Excellency Thuch was born on 10 January 1966 in the Pursat province in Cambodia. He studied Public Law at the Sorbonne University in Paris and subsequently earned two MBA degrees – a Marketing and Communication MBA in France and an MBA from the SCUPS in the United States. He attended intensive trainings on advanced management and he completed his doctoral degree in Business Administration at Preston University.