July 2011 Newsletter – Secretary Clinton, More Casualties, and How You Can Help

Posted: Jul 18, 2011

 July 2011 Newsletter

Legacies of War was created to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace. 
 Why does your donation matter now?
This is a critical time for our work as the federal budget is being determined and it is important that we have the sustained resources needed to advocate for UXO removal in Laos.


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Tell the U.S. government to increase funding for cluster bomb removal in Laos and assist victims and affected families.

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Quick Fact

Up to 80 million bombs failed to detonate, scattering throughout Lao villages, rice fields, school yards, pastureland and forests.


Related Links 




Recent Events

Mines Advisory Group & Legacies of War Midwest Reception 

Legacies of War Executive Director Channapha Khamvongsa was in Minneapolis to talk about her recent trip in Laos at a joint event organized with MAG. She recalled meeting Mr. Landon, 23, of Ban Sone who was blinded last October after his camp fire ignited a cluster bomb buried underground. She also talked about the continuing partnership between MAG and Legacies to address the UXO problem in Laos. Channapha also had the chance to meet with members of the Laotian community and to thank local volunteers for their ongoing support.


National Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival – Los Angele

It was onto Los Angeles for Executive Director Channapha Khamvongsa to attend a presentation of Refugee Nation, from LA to Laos: A Diasporic. She joined Ova Saopeng, Leilani Chan and Bryan Thao Worra to speak about Legacies’ ongoing collaboration with Refugee Nation which has taken both organizations to over 10 cities across the United States. In addition to this theatre presentation, the collaboration between Refugee Nation and Legacies has also led to the creation of a national curriculum on the Laotian “Secret War”.




PRESS RELEASE: Former Ambassadors to Laos Call on Secretary Clinton to visit country and Increase Funding for Unexploded Bomb Removal in Laos

Six former United States ambassadors or chiefs of mission to Laos have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to visit Laos and to commit to substantially increasing U.S. funding for the clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left behind during the Vietnam War.

Click to read Voice of America’s feature on Legacies of War in Lao

Click to hear Radio Free Asia’s broadcast of Legacies’ Press Release



UXO casualties in May & June 2011

Six Provinces involved in UXO accidents during May and June 2011. 40% of all UXO accidents involve children. (Source: National Regulatory Authority – 2011) 


Vilabuly, Savannakhet – When school broke for lunch, Sod (12) and his friends Vanthid (9) and Son Phet (10) went into the nearby jungle to collect bamboo and dig up something to eat. Sod was busily searching the ground when his hoe hit an unexploded BLU American cluster bomblet. The bomblet exploded. Sod was killed. Vanthid was seriously injured and spent the subsequent week in hospital. Ten-year-old Som Phet is paralyzed for life.

Such accidents are almost routine in Laos where about 100 civilians on average are killed or maimed every year by unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War. In the month of May and June, casualties included two other children and a labor worker who were killed by cluster bomblets. Four farmers, including one mother of three, sustained life-threatening injuries after they accidentally struck bomblets buried in their rice fields. Other injuries included 2 students.

There are currently 80 million pieces of unexploded ordnance scattered across the Laotian countryside. Accidents are inevitable in a country where most people grow rice to feed themselves and their families. The United States has a moral responsibility to do more to clear the unexploded ordnance it left behind to ensure that no more children are made to suffer from a war in which they had no part.

Similar to the accidents of children in recent months, we feature the story of 12 year old boys Lakone and Abit in our National Traveling Exhibition. They were injured several years ago in Xieng Khouang Province and survived.

Click here for a summary of other UXO Casualties in May & June  




Sap Lai Lao Cuisine Tasting & Fundraiser


Legacies of War held the first Sap Lai Lao Cuisine Tasting and Fundraiser in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos. Thank you to our wonderful hosts, Lora Lumpe, Diane Ohlbaum, and Allen Hahn.

Hosts: Diane Ohlbaum and Lora Lumpe

Guests sampling the variety of dishes
John Cavanagh spoke about drawings of bombing survivors he held onto for 18 years, which became the catalyst for starting Legacies.
Featured NGO: Mines Advisory Group (MAG)

MAG has been working in Laos since 1994, destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO) to provide safe access to land for agricultural development, water, roads, and infrastructural development. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, nearly 2  million tons of weaponry were dropped in Laos, including more than 270 million cluster bomb submunitions, with approximately 30% of all bombs failing to detonate. As a result, Laos is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history.  MAG works in Xieng Khouang and Khammouane Provinces using a disciplined approach to respond to the threat of UXO in ways that will provide the most immediate results for afflicted populations.

MAG picture

MAG’s Laos program targets the most at-risk communities through the following activities:

  • Community Liaison teams gather information from at-risk communities to identify how UXO is impacting their lives.
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams deploy to at-risk communities identified and prioritized by the Community Liaison teams.
  • EOD teams locate and safely destroy dangerous items through various clearance methods.
  • Mine Risk Education (MRE) is performed by local MAG employees in areas awaiting clearance, helping community members identify, avoid, and report dangerous items needing removal

Between September 2009 and September 2010, MAG cleared over 5.7 million square feet of land.  MAG’s focus, however, is on the value of that land and who it benefits.  Of the land cleared,  95% of the land can be used for farmland benefiting 54,000 local villagers. These activities and initiatives enable development and progress in Laos, and contribute to the long-term objective of reducing poverty at a national level. For more information on MAG International’s work in Laos and globally, please contact Patricia Loriaat patricia.loria@maginternational.org or visit www.maginternational.org/usa


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Category: Newsletters