Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed Monday for four fellow Southeast Asian countries to sign the international Mine Ban Treaty.
At the opening of a regional conference on landmines, Hun Sen called on Burma, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam to add their names to the list of those that completely ban the use of anti-personnel mines.
Cambodia, which signed the treaty in 1997, has between 4 million and 6 million landmines left over from 30 years of conflict, according to the demining agency CMAC. As many as 60,000 people in the country are disabled from contact with unexploded mines or ordnance.
At the three-day conference in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen asked the countries, all of whom belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to set an example for other Asian countries and the world.
“Cambodian Red Cross reports show that landmines and unexploded ordinance caused 60,000 casualties and counting,” the prime minister said. “While 70 percent of the victims are without limbs, 30 percent of these incidents resulted in death.”
An estimated 539,129 tons of ordnance were dropped on central and eastern Cambodia between 1968 and 1973. After three decades of war, Cambodia is still one of the most heavily mined nations in the world.
Canadian Ambassador Monica Pottie welcomed the Cambodian leader’s appeal but said agreement “depends very much on these countries themselves.”
The Ottawa Treaty has been signed by 155 of the world’s 195 countries since 1997. The US is not a signatory.