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Saturday, July 20, 2024

UXOs Take More Lives in Laos Amidst Ongoing International Efforts

This Week

As unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to pose a significant threat to lives in Laos, the Government of Ireland has pledged over USD 1 million for UXO clearance in Savannakhet Province. 

The funding supports an 18-month project to clear 870,000 square meters of UXO-contaminated land specifically in the Sepon and Vilabouly districts. It also includes conducting 1,080 risk education sessions to raise awareness among locals about UXO dangers and prevention measures.

Despite ongoing efforts, more work is needed to clear UXOs in many areas of Laos. In the first six months of this year, accidents involving UXO across the country resulted in 36 injuries and tragically claimed the lives of seven individuals. Most of these incidents occurred while children were playing or farmers were digging the ground.

The Lao National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector reported these figures during the meeting on 3 July in Vientiane, highlighting the significance of UXO clearance.

From January to June this year, over 33,500 UXO devices were cleared from 2,543 hectares of land, with a total of 1,425 sessions on explosive ordnance risk education conducted in 472 villages, reaching a total of 153,663 participants. 

During this period, 20 UXO-related accidents were recorded, involving 43 people.

Additionally, cooperation between the Lao government and humanitarian non-governmental organizations ensured that assistance was extended to 1,832 victims of UXO-related accidents.

Laos remains profoundly affected by its history as the most heavily bombed country per capita. Between 1964 and 1973, more than 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos, with an estimated 30 percent failing to explode. This left over 270 million cluster munitions, including an estimated 80 million live bomblets, scattered across the country.

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