PRESS RELEASE: U.S. Funding for UXO Clearance in Laos Reaches Historic High

Posted: Jan 21, 2014 / Category: Press Releases / 5 Comments »

Jan 21 2014

PRESS RELEASE 

U.S. Funding for UXO Clearance in Laos Reaches Historic High

Legacies of War successfully advocates for $12 million in 2014

Washington, DC, January 21, 2014: Legacies of War today announced that the U.S. will be spending $12 million in fiscal year 2014 for unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance, victim assistance and risk education in Laos. The funding was included in the recent omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The amount represents the largest annual spending by the U.S. to support various groups in Laos working to improve clearance efficiency, lower casualty rates and support current victims.

Legacies of War, a Washington-based nonprofit, has worked hard to focus the attention of the U.S. on the problem of UXO in Laos. “We are pleased to see that the U.S. government is stepping up to meet its responsibility to ensure that the unexploded bombs leftover from the Vietnam War era are finally cleared. We are grateful for the ongoing commitment of the policy makers in Washington and our partners in Laos who are dedicated to solving this four-decade old problem,” said Brett Dakin, Chair of the Board of Legacies of War.

From 1964 to 1973, Laos was involved in the Indochina conflict, and was subjected to the heaviest bombing campaign in history with approximately two million tons of ordnance dropped on the country. Of the 270 million cluster bombs dropped, about thirty-percent never exploded, leaving an estimated 80 million bomblets littering 14 of the 17 provinces in Laos.
“The tragic legacy of cluster munitions in Laos is one that all Americans should care about. I hope the additional funds in fiscal year 2014 will become part of a multi-year program to finally overcome this cruel history and enable the Laotian people to rebuild their lives,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds UXO clearance programs around the world.

Since the end of the bombing, the U.S. has provided $74M, including the $12M in FY14, for UXO activities in Laos. Of the total amount, $32 million, or forty-percent, has been allocated in the last five years.

“No doubt there’s been tremendous progress in the UXO Lao sector in recent years due to increased visibility, funding and collaboration among stakeholders. However, this is still a huge problem for the people of Laos – less than one-percent of the littered land has been cleared and there are currently over 10,000 victims in Laos,” said Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director of Legacies of War. The latest victims resulted from an accident that occurred during the first week of 2014 when six children in Boulikhamxay Province, ages 8 to 12 were injured, and three of whom died. Forty-percent of victims are children.

Founded in 2004, Legacies of War raises awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocates for the clearance of unexploded bombs, provides space for healing the wounds of war, and creates greater hope for a future of peace. Legacies of War plans to continue raising awareness and facilitating dialogue to resolve the UXO problem in Laos in the next decade.

Contact

Ms. Channapha Khamvongsa
(703) 868-0030
channapha@legaciesofwar.org

1312 9th Street NW
Washington, DC 20002

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  1. Brenda says:

    Yes, good news. But to phrase this spending as “stepping up to meet its responsibility” is a political euphemism extraordinaire. Likewise, this press release conveniently explains in the passive voice that “Laos was involved in the Indochina conflict, and was subjected to the heaviest bombing campaign in history,” side-stepping the fact that their ostensible benefactor–the US– was the very force who bombed Laos in the first place. Elsewhere on the Legacies of War Fact Sheet, it is spelled out: “From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped over 2 million tons of ordnance over Laos in 580,000 bombing missions, the equivalent of one planeload every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years.” Perhaps instead of the phrase “funding for UXO clearance,” the term “reparations” would be more appropriate. Has the US ever actually apologised? Have they ever admitted that what they did was brutally wrong? Not that I know of, please correct me if I am wrong. And I hardly think the 2012 expression of “U.S. commitment to address conflict legacy issues” comes anywhere near what the people of Laos deserve.

  2. Art Quickenton says:

    AS someone who goes to Laos and works with the remote villages, I am so pleased that we are giving our share to find the UXO in that war-torn country-thank you for all your hard work. I salute you and your group

  3. Alex Phongphachone says:

    Saibaidee Channapha,

    Just wanted to stop by for a quick hello. This is absolutely good news to hear that America is increasing the funding. No doubt YOU and your organization played a key role in making it happen. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Kop Jai Der,

    Alex

  4. Sithiphone keovilay says:

    Great to hear of great new for the people of Laos…..as for me I am also son of Laos miiilitary man n have travel to Laos couple of times . My father name is khamsao keovilay he passes away few yrs ago… My older brother stillin Laos n working with Laos red cross helping the people of Laos……congraduation n keep up the great job ……
    Sity keovilay

  5. tony deathe says:

    Hi Channapha,I am half way through building a safer bomb detecting system using remote control with conventional but non metalic equipment.I have tested an earlier model with success and need to complete a larger model ,which is well on the way but needs funding and help from other relavent sources. I started this project as a gold seeking hobby, but after watching a story on 4 corners about the laos Cluster bomb removal program I am convinced thats where I should focus My Idea.Let me say though, there will still be risks as they still have to remove these horrible things by hand but at least by method.I applaud these people for their Courage. Best Regards,Tony DeAthe