Lao delegation, led by Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare shared the achievements and challenges of Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) at the 10th State Parties Meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) from 31 August to 2 September 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegations from states parties were invited to share their status and progress in UXO survey and clearance, risk reduction education, victim assistance, national implementation measures, international cooperation and assistance, and universalization of the Convention.
Mr. Chomyaeng Phengthongsawat, Director General of the National Regulatory Authority of the UXO/Mine Action Sector (NRA) presented the country’s status and progress in clearance and risk reduction education.
Mr. Phengthongsawat discussed the best practices and progress made in Lao PDR on disseminating prioritization to local authorities, strengthening data management, surveys to explore suspicious hazard area and identify confirmed hazard area and clearance.
“The UXO Sector carried out the Non-Technical Survey in 396 villages, Technical Survey in 554 villages identifying 32,493 ha of CHAS and cleared land 7.500 hectares including 407 hectares of development areas and 7.097 hectares of agriculture areas,” said Mr Phengthongsawat.
Despite ongoing Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) there remain challenges to reducing casualties. He informed that in 2021, Lao PDR experienced higher number of casualties, 63, compared to 24, 25, 33 in previous years from 2018 to 2020 respectively, despite the highest clearance record in 2021.
Nevertheless, sharing the UXO Sector’s plan to launch national prioritization in 2023, revising national standard by the end of 2022 and plan for conducting Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Study for at-risk populations, he reaffirmed Lao PDR will continue to overcome challenges and obstacles of UXO issues.
He emphasized that such an endeavor would not have been possible without close cooperation from international organizations and development partners and requested continued support to the UXO sector in Lao PDR to help comply with the international obligations of the CCM.
Reminding the participants of the fact that Lao people continue to bear the legacy of cluster munitions long after the second Indochina war ended in 1973, the Lao delegations encouraged all parties to fulfil their obligations under the convention and called for a world free from cluster munitions.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty of more than 110 states that prohibits all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of these explosive weapons.