US Funds Over 21 Million for MAG’s UXO Activities in Xieng Khouang Province

0
806

The United States of America has provided MAG additional funding of USD 21.75 million for twenty-eight months to continue the implementation of UXO clearance, surveys, and explosive ordnance risk education in Xieng Khouang province.

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination throughout the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) persists as a serious humanitarian risk, particularly for vulnerable populations living in rural villages and towns.

Mines Advisory Group’s (MAG’s) work clearing land and providing explosive ordnance risk education reduces the number of UXO accidents, provides safe land for agricultural activities and infrastructure development, and contributes to the overall socio-economic development of Lao PDR.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare’s National Regulatory Authority for the UXO Sector (NRA) and MAG officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 13 January 2023 and 6 February 2023 to hold an official project opening meeting in Xieng Khouang

With the attendance of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos, Dr. Peter M. Haymond, and Mr. Sivilay Sengchaleun, Vice Provincial Governor and Chairman of the UXO/Mine Action Sector Work at the provincial level of Xiengkouang and other officials.

Funding from the United States government to support UXO survey and clearance in Lao PDR has increased this year, with the current funds awarded enabling MAG to continue its activities in Xieng Khouang province until 30 April 2025.

“The United States’ ongoing support will empower MAG to clear a considerable quantity of priority land in Xieng Khouang province in order to benefit vulnerable rural people. This critical work saves lives and builds safer futures for individuals living in UXO-contaminated areas,” said Portia Stratton, the Acting Country Director for MAG Laos.

“Clearance of land improves people’s livelihoods, allowing them to plow their land without fear, build critical community infrastructure like roads and health centers and send their children to school without fear of finding UXO on the playground,” she noted.

Over three decades of work in Laos, MAG has cleared more than 111 million square meters of land in Lao PDR, removing and destroying more than 325,000 items of UXO and directly benefitting over 1,256,000 men, women, and children.

With the additional USD 21,750,000 in funding contributions from the United States, MAG will clear the priority contaminated areas with UXO and survey land across Xieng Khouang province, and deliver over 672 explosive ordnance risk education sessions to impacted communities.

At least 16,800 people are expected to directly benefit from these activities. The funding will also support four roving teams tasked to destroy items of UXO reported by people in the community.

The clearance of cluster munitions and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) is essential to enhancing the lives and well-being of Laos.

This fund clearance and survey work by MAG will help individuals living in the most contaminated and at-risk locations, allowing Lao people to use their land without fear of harm or death from UXO.