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Japan gives US$9 million boost to UXO clearance in Laos
Publication Date : 14-10-2013
Japan has provided hundreds of new pieces of equipment to the Lao government worth 900 million Japanese yen (over US$9 million) to boost the country's capacity to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO).
The government of Japan has supplied the equipment to replace worn items used by the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao), which operates in nine provinces.
Some of the detection equipment used by UXO Lao, such as batteries, bomb detonators and transport vehicles, are quite old, having been in use for a decade and a half.
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Vientiane on Friday, Japanese Ambassador to Laos Junko Yokota said “This donation will help the Lao government to increase the speed and effectiveness of these vital activities, helping thousands more people and contributing to poverty reduction.”
The equipment includes over 400 new UXO and landmine detectors, 150 vehicles, office equipment including 90 computers, scanners, printers and fax machines, and other items such as grass cutters, radios and Global Positioning Systems.
Japan is aware of the suffering and damage that unexploded ordnance, especially cluster munitions, is continuing to bring to the lives of people in Laos.
Unexploded ordnance not only poses an immediate physical danger to nearby communities, but also severely hinders rural development in areas where devices remain.
UXO clearance is one of the most challenging tasks facing the Lao government as it strives to meet its obligations under the International Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Aiding Lao government efforts to tackle this issue, the Japanese government is supporting the UXO sector to remove these hazards, which scar the land and threaten the lives of thousands, Yokota said.
Minister to the Government Office and Chairman of the National Regulatory Authority, Bounheuang Douangphachnah, said the Japanese government has been supporting the operations of UXO Lao in Saravan and Xekong provinces for more than eight years under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.
In addition, Japan also supports Technical Transfer in Attapeu province through the Japan Mine Action Service as well as Laos-Cambodia South-South Cooperation on UXO/Mine Action implemented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The UXO problem in Laos is still a threat to the lives and property of the Lao people, putting them at risk of accidents, limiting the amount of land that can be safely cultivated, and hindering socio-economic development.
Every year, more than 100 people in Laos are killed or injured by unexploded munitions. UXO Lao works to reduce the number of casualties and increase the area of safe land available for food production and other socio-economic activities.
This contribution from Japan not only supports UXO clearance activities but also contributes to the five-year 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2011-2015 and the Rural Development and Poverty Eradication Plan, as well as the Millennium Development Goals, Bounheuang said.