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UXO continue to kill, maim local population

A total 28 people have been killed and seriously injured by unexploded ordnance (UXO) this year in Laos with this number expected to further increase before year end, officials reported.

Last year, 59 people were killed and seriously injured through exploding bombs in the country, UXO Lao reported at the UXO Sector Working Meeting in Vientiane last week.

Officials from relevant ministries, development partners, non-government organisations and UXO operators met to discuss and outline progress and plans for dealing with the UXO obstacle to Laos' development.

The sector working group outlined local progress regarding national plans and policies within the national Round Table Progress, Laos' development cooperation forum.

The progress toward completing a first national survey of known cluster munitions contamination was also discussed as well as a system for prioritising UXO clearance tasks and linkages to development outcomes.

Key goals for and achievements in the UXO Sect or Working Group were highlighted at the meeting with the aim to address these at the Round Table Implementation Meeting planned for November this year.

The UXO sector had implemented the recommendations of the high level round table meeting in 2015 such as improving the national survey procedures, prioritising survey and clearance activities and developing policies to assist UXO victims, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, DrKhamphengSaysompheng told the meeting.

UNDP Resident Representative to Laos, MsKaarinaImmonen reminded that implementing Laos' Sustainable Development Goal 18, “Lives safe from UXO” was crucial for progress across multiple goals noting that “Mine action and UXO mitigation is not only needed from a humanitarian angle, it is also enabling human development.”

Removing the risk would support the efforts of the Lao government in implementing several other sustainable development goals including Goal 1 on ending poverty, Goal 8 on decent work and Goal 10 on reducing inequalities as well as having a positive influence on numerous others, she said.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita and up to 30 percent of the total 270 million cluster munitions dropped on Laos during the Indochina war did not detonate, so around 80 million ‘bombies' remain scattered and buried in the ground.

UXO continues to threaten the lives of rural populations and is a hindrance to the use of land for agriculture.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Laos, Ms Rena Bitter emphasised that “Identifying the location and scale of the remaining cluster munitions contamination is important to us, to the government of Laos and most importantly the people of Laos.”

“The national cluster munitions survey will enable us to identify priorities and resources for the large clearance tasks that remain,” she added.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 21, 2017)

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