Belgian Ambassador visits APOPO
Belgian Ambassador visits APOPO in Cambodia and attends ICC PV.
Last month, APOPO’s Visitor Centre in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was honored by a high-level visit from H.E. Philippe Kridelka, Ambassador of Belgium to Thailand. Ambassador Kridelka was accompanied by Ms. Bénédicte Selfslagh, Cultural Heritage Expert and Belgium Representative to the International Coordinating Committee for Preah Vihear (ICC PV).
Since 2018, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports APOPO Cambodia, enabling them to expand in capacity to the province of Preah Vihear in the north. The APOPO detection animal teams in Preah Vihear are surveying and clearing approximately 600,000 m2 of land (by mid 2019), in combination with a vegetation cutting machine and manual deminers.
These operations are freeing up land for agriculture as well as clearing the minefields around the Preah Vihear Temple - a World Heritage Site. The temple area has a long history of minefields around it from former conflict. Choam Khsant is one of the most vulnerable areas in Cambodia and it was ranked as the most mine-affected district, with 16 reported accidents in 2017 according to the landmine monitor.
This visit gave APOPO's Mine Action team the opportunity to show the delegation how APOPO integrates its landmine detection rats into conventional demining methods to speed up detection and clearance.
The Ambassador showed great interest in seeing the demonstration of how APOPO’s rodent colleagues quickly find hidden explosives using their amazing sense of smell. The visitors learnt more about the global landmine problem and the various processes involved in the work APOPO does to clear minefields and release safe land back to local communities.
The tour, led by APOPO’s Head of Mine Action, Håvard Bach and Cambodia Program Manager Michael Heiman, spanned all steps of landmine detection and clearance.
Following the tour, on March 22nd, APOPO, Ambassador Kridelka and Ms Selfslagh attended the International Coordinating Committee established by UNESCO to coordinate the restoration work at the temple of Preah Vihear (ICC PV).
Photo: Facebook Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Thailand
During this 5th annual meeting of the ICC PV, the Ambassador spoke about the support given by the Kingdom of Belgium to the conservation of the Preah Vihear Temple. While also highlighting the landmine clearance efforts and achievements of APOPO.
Håvard received the opportunity to present the results and the benefits of the project so far. The ICC PV continues to focus on conservation and management issues of the temple site and APOPO is humbled to be a part of these activities.
APOPO Cambodia is deeply grateful for the generous support from the
Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Flemish Government.