Charity Raises Over GBP 445,000 to Help Lao Villages Clear Unexploded Bombs

Clearance of UXO in Laos (Photo: UXO Lao)

A fundraising appeal backed by actor Rosamund Pike has raised almost GBP 500,000 to clear a village in Laos of unexploded bombs left behind from the Vietnam war.

British actress Rosamund Pike urged people to support a campaign that will help clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) in August.

In Laos, the world’s most heavily bombed country per capita, the village of Vangkhom can now see a safer and more hopeful future thanks to supporters of the Manchester-based charity the Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

Unlock the Land – a campaign led by MAG to raise funds for vital clearance of unexploded bombs in the village – was supported by the UK government, who matched all donations. It was also launched and supported by Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor, and MAG Ambassador, Rosamund Pike.

Thanks to record donations from the public – plus a sponsored bike ride through Bosnia and Herzegovina – a total of GBP 449,309 was raised, including GBP 211,336 of match funding from the UK government.

The money will enable MAG teams in Khammouane province, Laos, to carefully search and clear the village, including precious agricultural land, of dangerous items.

“I have visited Vangkhom village in Khammouane province, and seen the scale of the devastation caused during the Vietnam war. The clearance work that MAG is doing is so important – it will mean that fields can be farmed again, that children can safely attend the local school, and that water wells can be used. I am so pleased that the UK government is funding this activity, which is vital for the development of Laos and its people,” said John Pearson, British Ambassador to Laos.

The campaign initially aimed to raise sufficient funds to deploy one team to clear 161,000m2 of land in Vangkhom.

The public’s phenomenal support and with the UK government matching donations, MAG will now deploy an additional team and clear up over 230,000m2, the equivalent of 32 football pitches.

Risk education sessions will also be organized to raise awareness of the risks associated with potentially lethal items and promote safer behavior.

Vangkhom, which was hit by more than 6,000 bombing missions during the Vietnam war, has been suffering ever since from its deadly legacy. Thanks to this fundraising campaign, MAG teams will now work together with the community to help provide it with the future it deserves.