Surveying the Thai-Cambodian border
Thailand is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world, yet few people are aware of the extensive landmine problem along the Cambodia, Lao, Malaysian, and Myanmar borders.
Beside the direct implications for victims, the presence of mines prevents access to agriculture land, is a threat to food security and causes an increased pressure on the natural environment.
Thailand’s 700km-long border with Cambodia, used as a base by Cambodian non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in the 1980s and 1990s, is the worst affected, accounting for three-quarters of the estimated contamination and 51 of its 69 high-impacted communities. More than half of the mine incidents in Thailand have occurred on this border. A 2001 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) identified 530 communities in 27 of Thailand’s 76 provinces and more than 500,000 people as mine/ERW-affected. The LIS estimated the total area of mine/ERW contamination at 2,557 km. Thailand’s revised Article 5 deadline extension request, submitted in 2008, claimed it had released 1,355km of this area, leaving a total of 1,202km of suspected hazardous area (SHA) to be released, including an estimated 528.2km of “real minefield” requiring manual clearance.
Thailand signed the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 27 November 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 May 1999. In 2009 Thailand´s request for an extension on its clearance deadline was extended to 1 November 2018.
To help address the problem and assist Thailand to meet their obligations under the Anti- Personnel mine ban treaty. APOPO with our partner, The Peace Road Organization (PRO), has been conducting Non-Technical Survey (NTS), technical survey, community liaison, mine/UXO risk education, polygon mapping, assistance to mine victims, capacity building of the national authority (TMAC) and minefield marking since 2011.
The APOPO-PRO teams have conducted a systematic evidenced based survey to gather evidence of mines. As a result, previously considered mined areas with “no real evidence” of mines have now been cancelled and the Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA) have been defined. The survey results are used to ensure that the scarce and expensive mine clearance work is focused only on those areas where there is a threat from mines. This then removes the danger to civilians more quickly and as result save lives and enhances local economic development.
APOPO suspended operations in Thailand at the end of 2013 pending some decisions from donors to continue to support Thailand.
Currently, only four Military Mine Action Units and one small national NGO and one international NGO is conducting mine clearance activities within Thailand. This capacity is, however, very small and needs significant expansion and enhancement to address the problem within an acceptable time frame.