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Cambodia to send deminers to help train Ukrainians

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has agreed to send deminers to help train Ukrainians in mine clearance laid by Russian forces during their invasion, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Hun Sen pledged to send trainers, in collaboration with Japan, during a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, the ministry said in a statement.

Cambodia became one of the most heavily mined countries in the world during nearly three decades of war that ended in 1998, placing civilians at great risk, especially in rural areas. Since then, a large number of mines and other unexploded devices have been cleared and destroyed, significantly reducing the number of casualties. Cambodian deminers have become some of the most experienced in the world, and over the past decade several thousand have been sent under the auspices of the United Nations to work in Africa and the Middle East.

Heng Ratana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Center, said in a Facebook post that after consultation with Japanese partners, his agency would send its first team to Ukraine in early December, and a second team could be sent to Ukraine. first quarter of next year.

Zelenskyy welcomed the deminers’ offer, and he and Hun Sen agreed to appoint ambassadors to each other’s countries, according to the ministry statement.

Several other countries, including the United States and Germany, have already provided mine clearance assistance to Ukraine.

In an unusual move for a nation that typically aligns itself with other former members of the socialist bloc, such as Russia and China, Hun Sen condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, saying “Cambodia is still against any country that invades another country”.

Cambodia was one of nearly 100 UN member countries that co-sponsored a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Two of Cambodia’s neighbors who were also part of the socialist bloc, Vietnam and Laos, abstained. More recently, Hun Sen condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory and, according to the ministry’s statement, expressed concern over recent attacks on Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine.

New York-based Human Rights Watch in a report released in June accused Russia of using landmines “that cause civilian casualties and suffering, as well as disruption of food production.”

“Russia is the only party to the conflict known to have used banned anti-personnel mines, while Russia and Ukraine have used anti-vehicle mines,” he said.

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