October 2012 Newsletter – Legacies’ advocacy has on-the-ground results, the environmental impact of UXO, and more!

Posted: Nov 1, 2012

October Newsletter 
In This Issue
Legacies’ advocacy leads to new HALO project
Laos: An Untold Story
BBC Radio piece on UXO
New casualties in October
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Giant “Daddy Longlegs” discovered in Laos

International Campaign to Ban Landmines Celebrates 20th Anniversary 

Thank You, Kop Chai, andUa Tsaug to Our October Donors!
Thanks to our October donors, including Judith Hiniker, Geoff Hutchinson, Carolyn and Mark Koenig, Khonesavath Lattasima, Ernest Renda, Igor Sytnikov, and Mark Wahl.

Legacies’ Washington, DC-based advocacy means fewer UXO in Savannakhet province

Demining Team
Clearance team at work

New funding will mean fewer unexploded bombs in Savannakhet province this year. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has officially pledged $1.5M to fund a HALO Trust clearance project in Savannahket’s Vilabouly and Sepon districts. This funding is a direct result of Legacies of War’s advocacy, which helped to increase the State Department’s UXO funding in Laos from $5 million in 2011 to an unprecedented $9 million in 2012. At the grant-signing ceremony in Vientiane on October 4th, Mr. Phoukhiew Chanthasomboun, Director of the National Regulatory for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos, stated that out of the nation’s 45 poorest districts, 41 are contaminated with UXO. Vilabouly and Sepon districts rank among the poorest districts in the country and the most heavily contaminated with UXO. The new project will make more fertile land available for agriculture and increase the possibility of sustainable livelihoods for villagers living and working in contaminated areas in Savannahket.

Laos: An Untold Story
Thu-An and survivor
Thu-An speaks with a UXO survivor in Laos

High school student Thu-An Pham tells the “untold story” of the bombing of Laos and how UXO continue to affect the daily lives of the people of Laos. Thu-An visited Xieng Khouang province, where 25% of villages are contaminated with UXO, and talks to survivors and advocates working to clear bombs, help survivors rebuild their lives, and educate children about the risk of UXO. To each person she interviews, Thu-An poses the question, “People in America don’t know about the secret war in Laos or the presence of UXO here. What would you say to them to explain the importance of this issue?” Watch Thu-An Pham’s film to hear their powerful responses, and learn new stories about the legacy of war in Laos.

BBC Radio piece examines UXO impact on environment in Laos
BBC's Costing the Earth: Apocalypse, Then and Now
BBC Radio’s “Costing the Earth” series takes a look at the environmental impact of the bombings of Laos in the segment, “Apocalypse, Then and Now.” Hear from representatives of theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature, the World Wildlife FundPlan Laos, and others about the ongoing impact of UXO on both people and nature.
New Casualties in November

This month, two elderly people were hurt in separate incidents in Paek District, Xieng Khouang province, both while trying to prepare food over a fire. One older man and his wife were preparing dinner in their field, 10 miles from their village, when a bombie exploded, injuring the man’s hand and face. They were not able to walk back to the village until the next day, when they boarded a bus to Xieng Khouang hospital. An older woman was also injured when a bombie exploded in a fire over which was was making sticky rice in bamboo. She lived closer to the hospital and was treated for her wounds right away.

We also received sad news that a farmer in Xieng Khouang who was blinded by a UXO explosion last spring committed suicide, leaving behind a wife and four children. We mourn for the family’s loss. There is little psycho-social support for survivors in Laos, who may struggle physically, economically, and emotionally after an accident.

Lighting candles in Tham Piu Cave
Photo credit: Stuart Westmorland
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Category: Newsletters