On November 6, 2017, the Director General of Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), Heng Ratana, has announced that the United States has decided to cease the funding to detect hidden bombs in Cambodia. Previously, the funding from the United States was $2.5 million per year. According to Xinhua Net, Heng Ratana said, “I have received a confirmation letter from the Project Partner NPA [Norwegian People’s Aid] …stating that the U.S. is going to cease funding for ERW (explosive remnants of war) clearance project in the Eastern part of Cambodia from the beginning of January 2018.”
According to Khmer Times, Sok Eysan, the spokesman of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) responded that he didn’t know why the U.S. decided to stop providing funding to CMAC, but he inferred that it could be related to U.S. President Donald Trump’s new policy, which cuts funding to considerable countries. The Cambodian government has exiled US-backed NGO, the National Democratic Institute, and shut down 32 independent radio stations in late August. The government has also arrested the political leader of Cambodia National Rescue Party, Kem Sokha, who was seen as a main threat to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in the election next year. He had conspired with the U.S. to subvert the current Cambodian government. Subsequently, the tension between Cambodia and United States gradually escalated, with a mutual censure between the two countries. The cessation of funding to CMAC could be speculated as the United States’ revenge.
According to Bangkok Post, Heng Ratana said, “They [United States] did not tell us the reason … I think that they want to shut our mouths up and stop us from talking about the chemical weapons dropped by the US … We are concerned about the project.” According to data by CMAC, within Cambodia, there are estimated to be four to six million landmines or other explosive pieces. The U.S. has dropped 2.7 million different kinds of bombs in last century.
It should be the United States’ responsibility to clear any bombs left during the war. Whether the cessation of funding to CMAC is in response to President Trump’s new policy, the United States should persist in its oversea “make-up” actions. Although Hun Sen has announced that he would support for CMAC’s work by providing funding, the United States are supposed to continue its funding to CMAC. But apparently, only if Hun Sen stops his political oppression, could the United States choose to continue its funding. The Cambodian people may have to wait to confront the danger.