KOICA grants US$5.5 million for UXO sector

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has provided more than 4.7 billion kip (US$5.5 million) for the second phase of a UXO project in Laos, up from the US$3 million contributed for the first phase.

An agreement concerning the funding contribution for the second phase of the UXO support project, which runs from 2019-2022, was signed on Tuesday by the National Regulatory Authority for UXO and Mine Action under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, KOICA, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The event was chaired by Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs Baykham Khattiya, and KOICA President Ms Lee Mikyung, and attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Laos, Mr Shin Sung-soon; National Regulatory Authority Acting Director, Mr Bounpheng Sisawath; and representatives of the KOICA Laos office and UNDP.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mrs Baykham said she was honoured that the Korean government was providing funding of US$5.5 million for the UXO sector, and that this amount was an increase on the US$3 million donated for the first phase.

She thanked KOICA, the Korean government and UNDP for their assistance.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Ms Lee said “I am very glad that KOICA continues to contribute to the UXO sector through the second phase of the project.”

“The Korean government plans to contribute to the development of KOICA’s partner countries with a focus on the 3 Ps (people, peace, prosperity). KOICA hopes to contribute to building peace in Laos, improving the quality of life of UXO victims, and fulfilling the ‘Live safe from UXO’ goal, which is Laos’ own Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 18).

Under the terms of the document signed, KOICA will release its contribution in two packages: US$3 million will be implemented in cooperation with the UNDP, and US$2.5 million will be delivered bilaterally, to be used for victim assistance.

This second phase of the project will continue the work of the first phase, carried out from 2015-2018, which supported the National Regulatory Authority to fulfil its mandate of coordinating the overall management of the UXO sector.

KOICA will also continue supporting the UXO humanitarian teams of the Lao People’s Army in training, equipment and operations cost needs in Borikhamxay province, where no other humanitarian operators are present.

KOICA and UNDP have also worked together in rural development in Saravan province. The Republic of Korea supplies a range of specialists to UNDP, through various avenues, including the KOICA Multinational Cooperation Officer Programme and the UN Volunteers Programme.

These activities are all aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals, with the UXO related project targeting Laos’ own national ‘Live safe from UXO’ goal.

UNDP Resident Representative Ms Ricarda Rieger said “UXO is an impediment to poverty reduction and graduation from Least Developed Country status. UNDP has a longstanding partnership with the government in the UXO sector in Laos and we are happy to continue working with KOICA to ensure that funds and efforts are maximised to achieve the target set out in SDG 18.”