Australia provided funding for UXO Lao

Published on July 18, 2013

Australian government supports AUS 1,800,000 Laos to reduce UXO

Australian government increase supporting to Laos on the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme or Lao UXO with an additional 1,800,000 Australian Dollar contribution to reduce risk of UXO in Southern Provinces. Official said, the new funding enables UXO Lao to increase its survey, clearance and risk education capacity in districts and province, where poverty reduction activities are significantly hindered by the presence of UXO.

The MOU signed by AusAID Head of Development Cooperation Dave Vosen, and Minh Pham, The UNDP Resident Representative. The signing witnessed by Minister to the Government Office and President of the NRA Bounhueang Douangphachan.

According to Dave Vosen, Australia acknowledges that development initiatives undertaken in UXO contaminated areas need to include surveys, clearance and risk education activities so that development outcomes will not be diminished.

The United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Minh Pham said that he appreciated the commitment and continued support from the Australian government to tackle the UXO issue in Laos. This funding represents a partnership between development projects and UXO clearance groups within the spirit of the Lao government’s new directive, the National Regulatory Authority Announcement 93.

The new funding enables UXO Lao to increase its survey, clearance and risk education capacity in six districts, including Phine and Sepon districts in Savannaket province, Sukhuma and Moonlapamok districts in Champasak province and Laongarm and Salavan districts in Salavan province, where poverty reduction activities are significantly hindered by the presence of UXO.

It is recorded that, the presence and scale of UXO contamination in Laos poses a serious impediment to poverty reduction and the sustainable development of the country. Since 2010, close to 100 people have been killed or injured in UXO accidents each year. Nowadays, UXO presence prevents safe access to agricultural land, schools, health clinics and markets in certain areas of the country Tackling the UXO issue is a pre-requisite for long-term development.

In recognition of this the government adopted a Lao specific Millennium Development Goal No 9, which targets UXO impact reduction by 2020. Strong partnerships and continued support from the international community such as that from Australia is required to assist the Lao people in realising their right to live without harm or fear of UXO and to achieve their aspirations for poverty reduction and graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2020.

About 87,000 square kilometres of land in Laos has been affected by UXO. This has lead to a very hazardous existence for people living in formerly bombed areas throughout the country. So far, a total of 31,000 hectares of UXO-contaminated land has been cleared by UXO removal groups since 1996. According to UXO Lao, their teams have cleared almost 27,000 hectares of that.

It is estimated that out of the 2 million tonnes of bombs, including 288 million cluster bombs and four million big bombs that were dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973, about 30 percent did not detonate and today remain a serious threat to community safety. During this period, a total of 580,000 bombing missions were conducted, which averages out at one bombing mission every eight minutes around the clock for nine years.

According to the NRA, more than 8,400 square kilometres of the country was impacted.

Source: LNTV Lao News in English