Australia Further Supports UXO Free Efforts in Laos

Australia Further Supports UXO Free Efforts in Laos

Australia has increased its contribution to unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance operations in the areas flooded last year in Attapeu Province in Laos.

Australia announced an additional 407,000 Australian dollars (291,000 US dollars or 2.5 billion kip) to carry out UXO clearance operations in Attapeu Province, according to a press release by United Nations Development Programme on 27 June.

Additional funding will bring Australia’s total assistance to UXO clearance to 607,000 Australian dollars. The country has deployed UXO Lao clearance teams to the district since September 2018 with the initial funding of 200,000 Australian dollars to support the flood response through area clearance for emergency displacement.

Attapeu is one of the most UXO contaminated provinces in Laos with about 94 percent of villages in the area affected. The latest flood that hit the region is believed to have raised risks posed by UXO in the flooded areas with a possibility that the floods might have shifted UXO.

According to statistics from Lao authorities, the United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordnance on Laos from 1965 to 1973, including 2.7 million cluster bombs that are designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode.

From 2008 to 2017 about 920 people were injured or killed in almost 600 UXO-related accidents with the number of fatalities recorded at 244, said the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector, an official Lao institution dealing with UXO issues.