The Legacies staff was up bright and early this Monday morning for a meeting with the Lao government’s National Regulatory Agency. The NRA oversees all UXO related programs in the country, including the bomb removal activities of the UXO Lao and NGO/private removal companies, as well as education and victim assistance programs. The agency works to provide comprehensive data collection and mapping on the location of bomb contamination and the number of UXO victims. We learned of several recent research efforts that are uncovering more disturbing data on UXO. A survey at the village level in the affected provinces has revealed the number of UXO victims is close to four times what has previously been estimated. Final numbers will be available by the end of this year. Also the U.S. government has released additional bombing data that indicate the total tonnage of bombs dropped on Laos may be much higher that previously thought.
UXO programs in Laos are vastly underfunded and while progress is being made in some regions, the scope of the problem is overwhelming.