State Department: 2011 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Asia

Posted: Dec 20, 2011

From the Report for Laos:


Date: 2011 Description: Heavy flooding in Laos has made UXO removal even more difficult.  © Photo courtesy of Stephen Pritchard, NPA.
Heavy flooding in Laos has made UXO removal even more difficult. Photo courtesy of Stephen Pritchard, NPA.

During the Vietnam War, a U.S. extensive bombing campaign left Laos the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita, a tragic title it retains to this day. Landmines and cluster munitions continue to threaten the Lao people, and because of the high value of scrap metal derived from unexploded ordnance (UXO) in this impoverished country, human contact with explosive remnants of war (ERW) is increasing. The demand for UXO-contaminated land has increased due to the country’s large population growth in rural areas.

During FY1993–FY2009, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) provided assistance totaling $25,472,000 for clearance of UXO/minefields, capacity building for a national program, UXO/mine-risk education (MRE) in public schools, and victim assistance (VA) activities.

For FY2010, Congress directed that the Department of State spend no less than $5 million for humanitarian mine and UXO action in Laos. PM/WRA provided $5.1 million for mine/UXO clearance and MRE/VA activities as follows:

• MAG (Mines Advisory Group)—$1.7 million for clearance operations in several provinces. These projects typically are coordinated with other developmental activities conducted by the Lao government and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) so as to focus clearance efforts on land that will be put to immediate use. MAG also used a portion of this funding to revise and improve clearance equipment and procedures.

• UXO Lao—$1.25 million for its nationwide clearance work, channeled subcontracted to Armor Group ($747,500) and MAG ($500,000). Armor Group’s support included technical advice to UXO Lao and the National Regulatory Authority.

• World Education—$950,000 for 12 months of support for the UXO Education and Awareness program along the Laos-Vietnam border and for victims’ assistance in heavily-affected areas.

• Norwegian People’s Aid—$700,000 for clearance in Sekong province.

• Catholic Relief Services—$230,000 for a two-year VA project.

• Spirit of Soccer—$220,000 for a two-year, sports-based risk-education project.

• Clear Path International—$52,000 for VA.

In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) provided $1 million to a program, implemented by Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise, to support prosthetic and orthotic activites in collaboration with the Lao National Rehabilitation Center.

Legacies of War is one of the private-sector partners of the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. Since 2004, Legacies’ education and advocacy has led directly to the gradual increase of funding from the State Department for UXO activities in Laos. Read more about the non-governmental organizations in Laos, which receive this U.S. funding to clear land, support victims and educate about the dangers of UXO. Together, we are reducing harm to local villagers and are saving lives in the future.

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