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Two decades of toil reveals Luang Prabang’s ongoing UXO ordeal

Almost 4,000 hectares of land in Luang Prabang province has been declared free from the threat of unexploded ordnance contamination over the past two decades, but this accounts for just 0.1 percent of the total area of around 16,000 square kilometres.
The UXO Lao local office revealed the achievements made over the past 20 years in UXO clearance and building awareness for residents on dangers remaining from the war and the daunting scale of the challenges that remain.
According to a report disseminated by UXO Lao provincial project coordinator Mr Houmphanh Chanthavong at a meeting last week, some 3,700 hectares have now been cleared of UXO.
More than 41,000 UXO items have been defused and de-armed safely including 17 big bombs, 24,722 submunitions and 185 landmines.
Aside with this, mobile teams destroyed more than 28,000 UXO, which were deemed too risky to move from the places they were found.
Of this number, 326 were big bombs, around 9,400 were submunitions plus 326 landmines and other small explosive arms.
Regular dissemination on the UXO danger has seen some 500,000 people in high-risk areas benefitting directly from educational outreach activities.
Luang Prabang province has 12 districts and of these, Luang Prabang, Phoukhoun, Nambak, Ngoi, and Pak-Ou are the most at risk.
Luang Prabang is one of several Lao provinces contaminated with UXO, unwanted explosive remains from US aerial bombardments during the Second Indochina war that continued from 1964 to 1973.
More than two million tonnes of were dropped on Lao territory in the period.
While difficult to approximate, it is understood that up to 30 percent of these dropped cluster munitions failed to explode.
Of these, it's unknown how many remain a live and present danger to date.
Lao National Unexploded Programme (UXO Lao) began its work in 1996, and since then more than 380 square kilometres of land has since been cleared for safe use by hundreds of schools, water facilities, roads and other important projects nationwide.
More than 1,480,000 UXO items have been destroyed, 11,900 villages were visited for risk education, and status of thousands of sites have been confirmed.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
February 14,

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