Over 20,000 innocent lives have been lost to bombs left over from the Vietnam War-era. Now, nearly 40 years later, over 300 villagers, mainly children, are killed or maimed annually. These are some of the stories of the “lucky” ones. These are the stories of the survivors.
A Month in Casualties: May 2011
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 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.
Such accidents are almost routine in Laos where 300 civilians on average are killed or maimed every year by unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War. In the same month of May, 2011, two other children were killed by cluster bomblets. Two farmers, including one mother of three, sustained life-threatening injuries after they accidentally struck bomblets buried in their rice fields.
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. When school broke for
Palai Chang, a two year old girl, was sleeping in her cradle by the fire as her parents worked in their nearby rice field. The heat of the fire that kept Palai Chang warm also set off a bomb that was buried under ground. Palai Chang was seriously hurt, but she survived the blast.
Ms. Bai (28, farmer) owns a rice field with her husband about a mile and a half away from their village. Together, they spent the morning plowing their field and planting crops for the new growing season. Just before midday, Ms. Bai’s hoe hit a cluster bomblet that was buried in the ground. A mother of three, she suffered serious injuries and had to be transported to the provincial hospital.
Mr. Khenthong (52, farmer) was pruning excess vegetation on his rice field. His knife hit a BLU cluster bomblet that had passed unnoticed. Khenthong was taken to hospital but survived the explosion.
- Unexploded Bombs in a Land of a Million Elephants By Nakhone Keodara
Testimonies of A Peaceful Legacy Campaign Supporters
The US Bomb Legacy in Laos