His Excellency Ly Thuch, First Vice President, Cambodia Mine Action Authority
Ms. Asako Okai, Assistant Secretary General, UNDP
Mr. Daniel Craig, UN Global advocate for the elimination of mines and explosive hazards
We are excited to be with you this evening at the launch of the Cambodia Safe Ground Initiative. The seeds for Safe Ground in Cambodia was planted in May 2019 during the Annual Dialogue of the United Nations with the Prime Minister.
Cambodia’s efforts on mine action needed sustained global attention.
The Royal Government believes that mine action reduces poverty, makes zero hunger, access to education and peace a reality. So much so that Government designated an 18th Sustainable Development Goal and targeted to be mine free by 2025.
This 18th Cambodian SDG is even more significant when we consider the disastrous consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable Cambodians.
The essential work of demining did not stop in Cambodia, even while business slowed down, and government focused on containing the pandemic.
Managing the pandemic and clearing mines are both about saving lives and livelihoods. It is also about using the crisis as an opportunity to build back better by standing up for human rights. Stepping up assistance to victims and clearing land for agriculture, productive activity and even children’s playing fields pave the way for Cambodians to reimagine future possibilities.
I congratulate the Royal Government on a strong, forward-looking and ambitious National Mine Action Strategy, which set the course for the country to be mine-free in four years.
With a clear deadline in sight, now is the time to bolster support for Cambodians to live in a safe environment, and where no one is left behind.
If UN Cambodia planted the seeds in 2019, Safe Ground with this launch, mobilizes awareness sorely needed to achieve a mine free Cambodia by 2025.
Thank you Mr. Craig, for lending your name to Cambodia’s hopes for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable future!