2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Laos

Report
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Laos experienced intense aerial bombing during the Indochina wars of the 1960s and 1970s, making it the world’s most heavily bombed country per capita. Landmines and unprecedented numbers of UXO that remain in most of the country’s 17 provinces and one prefecture present the greatest danger to the local population today. Accordingly, Laos’ growing rural population and socioeconomic needs have increased demands for productive land, at a greater risk of death and injury. The extent of contamination that remains in Laos has not been documented and no national landmine/UXO survey has been conducted. However, NPA developed a unique survey methodology that is evidence-based and focuses on identifying and mapping cluster-munition strikes. Such a survey can provide a baseline on what remains to be cleared, and a way to prioritize tasks.

From FY1995 through FY2014, the United States invested more than $84 million in Laos in mine-action activities. In FY2014, the U.S. government contributed more than $13 million for CWD in Laos.

The Department of State supported the work of the following implementing partners:

• Catholic Relief Services provided first-aid training and equipment to health volunteers in communities at risk for UXO accidents; and delivered risk education to primary school-age children.

• HALO supported UXO clearance teams tasked with survey and clearance of UXO in Savannakhet Province.

• Health Leadership International continued work to improve medical diagnostic capabilities and competencies of district-level medical personnel and medical education in UXO-affected districts in Laos. The organization delivered five portable ultrasound machines to hospitals for the program.

• MAG supported survey and clearance teams in Xieng Khouang Province.

• NPA continued their evidence-based survey work in Sekong Province and expanded operations into Salavan Province.

• Spirit of Soccer provided risk education for school children through soccer coaching activities and sports, specifically in Xieng Khouang Province; and delivered a women’s soccer clinic that disseminated mine risk education and trained coaches from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

• Sterling Global partnered with UXO Lao on UXO survey and clearance efforts and provided managerial support to the National Regulatory Authority, which oversees all UXO-related activities in Laos.

• World Education, Inc. presented an improved victim assistance program in Xieng Khouang Province, providing trauma-care training capacity for Lao medical trainers, developing a national first-aid curriculum, and delivering risk education in 200 primary schools.

USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund provided funding to the Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise to support physical rehabilitation programs, including prosthetics, orthotics, and mobility aids to nearly 4,500 people, including 1,500 children. The fund also supported World Education, Inc. to provide small grants in the areas of rehabilitation training, economic support, assistive devices, and medical rehabilitation.