UXO clearance is still big concern
(KPL) Unexplored ordnance (UXO) clearance in the Lao PDR is still a major concern because the areas that have already been cleared do not quite amount to 1 percent of the total area that needs to be cleared.
Director General of the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA), Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun has said recently that their organization can clear only 6,000 hectares of UXO per year while the plan hopes to clear 20,000 hectares per year.
"We are still not reaching our target for UXO clearance, when compared to the demand for serving socio-economic development in the country,"said Mr Phoukhieo.
To continue reducing UXO, the NRA is cooperating with the Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication to establish UXO data based in development focus areas and also relocation areas for poor people to be moved in order to survey priority sites for the clearing of UXO in the future.
The NRA will cooperate with relevant sectors to improve ways of conducting UXO clearance in hopes of saving capital and increasing the area cleared.
In fiscal year 2014-15, the government will be providing 600 million kip for surveying and clearing UXO in the development focus areas.
"I do confirm that the government will in the future provide a yearly budget of additional capital from international funds for the purpose of UXO clearance," said Mr Phoukhieo.
Throughout the second Indochina war (1964-1973), Laos became the most heavily bombed country in the world.
More than 580,000 bombing missions led to around three million tons of ordnance being dropped on Laos, of which over 270 million were cluster munitions and four million cluster bombs.
Technicians estimate that approximately 30 per cent of the total amount of UXO remained live in the Lao landscape after the end of the war.
The International Handicraft's survey result in 1996 recorded that UXO were dropped in 98 Districts in 14 Provinces in Laos.
Since 2010, approximately 80 people per year have been killed or injured.
UXO presence continues to be a big obstacle for the national socio-economic development of Laos.