UK Continues Funding UXO Clearance in Savannakhet Province

UK Continues Funding UXO Clearance in Savannakhet Province
Ordnance Disposal Unit searching for bombs

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has reaffirmed its support for the HALO Trust’s Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance operations in Savannakhet province by awarding USD 545,400 for HALO’s UXO clearance project in Phin and Nong districts. 

The project continuation was officially launched on 14 March, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between HALO Trust and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented by the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector (NRA).

The HALO Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian UXO clearance organization, has been operating in Savannakhet province since 2012. The UK government began supporting HALO Trust’s operations in Laos in 2014 through its Global Mine Action Programme, providing over USD 4.5 million in funding over ten years for UXO clearance, survey, and risk education efforts in Savannakhet province.

Laos endured heavy aerial bombardment from 1964 to 1973 during the Second Indochina War, resulting in over 2 million tons of munitions being dropped. The country is considered one of the most UXO-contaminated countries per capita, with more than 50,000 UXO victims since the conflict’s end. 

The UK’s continued support will enable HALO Trust to clear 70 hectares of high-priority agricultural and residential land in Phin and Nong districts, which are heavily contaminated by cluster munitions from the Second Indochina War. This funding will aid Laos in meeting its obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to which the UK is also a signatory.

British Ambassador to Laos, Melanie Barlow takes a group photo with other officials at the project launching ceremony

British Ambassador to Laos, Melanie Barlow, stated, “The UK Government is proud to be one of the largest bilateral donors supporting work clearing UXO in Laos, providing over USD 22 million from 2016-2023. We are committed to continuing this vital work, with further funding announced today. We are also proud that the Halo Trust is a UK humanitarian Organization. I will see first-hand how their work is helping the socio-economic development of Laos – decreasing the number of people who are killed or injured by UXO and clearing land for agricultural and community use.”

Since starting operations in Savannakhet province, the HALO Trust has cleared over 35,000,000 square meters of UXO-contaminated land and destroyed over 110,000 UXO items. The clearance of UXO is crucial for improving the lives and livelihoods of people in Savannakhet province, particularly those living in areas with high contamination levels.