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US aids Laos’ UXO clearance in Savannakhet

Publication Date : 12-12-2013


The United States of America has approved a donation of US$1.73 million to Laos for an unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance project in Savannakhet province.

UXO are explosive weapons (bombs, bullets, shells, grenades, land mines, naval mines, etc.) that did not explode when they were employed and still pose a risk of detonation, potentially many decades after they were used or discarded.

The project will run over 13 months having already started in August this year until the end of August next year and is focused on two districts,

Vilabouly and Xepon, as these rank among the poorest as measured by the national poverty index and suffer some of the highest UXO accident rates.

A memorandum of understanding on the project's implementation was signed yesterday in Vientiane between the National Regulatory Authority for the Mine/UXO sector in Laos' Director, Phoukhiew Chanthasomboun, and the Programme Manager of HALO Trust, Zacharybrook Miller, witnessed by provincial authorities and representatives of both sides.

UXO contamination of land continues to cause deaths and devastate communities as villagers are forced to expand rice paddies and clear new land in order to feed their families.

As a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the government of Laos has committed to clearing 200,000 hectares of UXO contaminated priority land by 2020. Increasing clearance capacity and efficiency is crucial to achieving this treaty obligation, according to a press release.

Given casualties are still occurring almost 40 years after the bombing ended and that UXO contamination remains widespread, there is a clear requirement for increased clearance operations.

This will ensure land is cleared and released for agricultural and commercial use in a shorter timeframe and the number of UXO victims is reduced.

HALO Trust is the world's oldest and largest humanitarian landmine/UXO clearance organisation and currently works in 12 countries with over 8,000 staff employed in clearance operations.

HALO Trust would particularly like to highlight the funding provided by the USA for clearance of UXO in Laos over the last 10 years which has reached US$25 million.

Through modified survey techniques, appropriate task prioritisation and the employment of the maximum number of technicians in the group, HALO Trust aims to justify the support of the US government and to help Laos to achieve the ninth Millennium Development Goal of reducing the impact of UXO.

The government of Laos needs more than US$50 million every year for clearance of unexploded ordnance.

In November 2010 in Vientiane, US$19 million was donated by international development partners for UXO clearance purposes in the country.

The donation for UXO clearance in the 2011-2012 fiscal year stood at US$30 million.



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