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US, Norway provide over 243 billion kip for unexploded ordnance clearance

The governments of the United States and Norway and Fagforbundet will provide a grant of more than 243 billion kip (US$28,030,453) to support an unexploded ordnance (UXO) survey, clearance and capacity development activities in Laos.
The funding will be provided to the HALO Trust and Norwegian People’s Aid to support the UXO-related activities in the provinces of Savannakhet, Saravan, Champassak, Xekong and Attapeu. The project will run from 2019 to 2022.

A ceremony for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project was organised in Vientiane on Friday. The document was signed by Head of the Office of the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector of Laos, Mr Chomyaeng Phengthongsawath, Programme Manager of HALO Trust, Mr Paul Miller, and Country Director of Norwegian People’s Aid, Mr Aubrey Sutherland.
The event was attended by Lao Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs Baykham Khattiya, US Ambassador, Ms Rena Bitter, and Norwegian Ambassador, Ms Grete Lochen.
HALO Trust will implement the Cluster Munition Remnants Survey (CMRS) and clearance of UXO in Savannakhet province until June 2022.
These activities will be funded by the US government through a grant worth  US$17,285,000.
Norwegian People’s Aid will implement the third phase of the UXO survey and clearance, which will run till December 2020, with funding that includes US$ 8,839,571 from the US government, US$ 1,823,528 from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and US$82,354 from Fagforbundet.
Ambassador Bitter said, “It is wonderful that these MOUs are being signed today, as the funding we provided today will continue supporting the national survey of UXO contamination and continued clearance operations in Laos.
Together, the US and our partners are working to support the Lao govemment’s efforts to achieve its ambitious strategic development goal 18 - to clear UXO as a barrier to national development by 2030.”
The HALO Trust and the Norwegian People’s Aid will use funding from the US government to conduct a cluster munition remnants survey (CMRS), a process used to identify areas with known contamination by cluster munition remants.
This survey is essential for identifying the level of contamination and to understand which areas of Attapeu, Champassak, Saravan, Savannakhet and Xekong provinces are still impacted by unexploded cluster munitions.
Conducting this survey is a critical step in supporting the Lao government to meet its obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
While the focus of the survey is mapping areas with confirmed contamination, the CMRS ultimately results in more informed, more targeted and more effient clearance, which will better support the people of Laos, officials said.

By Phomphong Laoin
(Latest Update June 24, 2019)

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