UK provides aid for UXO clearance

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) -The government of the United Kingdom will provide grant aid worth more than 9 billion kip (US$1,078,253) for long-term commitment to supporting the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance activities in Laos implemented by Norwegian People’s Aid.

The funding will be provided to support UXO clearance in Saravan, Champassak, Xekong and Attapeu provinces from July 2019 to March 2020.

A ceremony to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the project took place in Vientiane Wednesday. The document was signed by the Head of Office of the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for UXO/Mine Action Sector, Mr Chomyaeng Phengthongsawath, and Country Director of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Mr Aubrey Sutherland.

The event was attended by the Head of Office of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Leepao Yang, and Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy, Mr Jeff Matthewman.

This brings the total contribution by the government of the United Kingdom to the UXO sector to over US$9,800,000 from 2019-2020, supporting the clearance of UXO in seven provinces and capacity development of the NRA.

Cluster munition contamination in Laos is amongst the highest in the world when measured against the population, and extensive contamination poses a risk to the livelihoods, socio-economic development and quality of life of those living in affected communities.

The clearance of cluster munitions is critical to improving the lives and livelihoods of people living in Laos, and NPA’s activities will benefit the most at risk people in areas with the highest contamination. This will allow villagers to use their land without fear of injury or death from cluster munitions.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has shown significant, ongoing commitment to assisting Laos in reducing the impacts of unexploded cluster munitions and in meeting its obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the goals of the locally-adopted Sustainable Development Goal No. 18, “Lives Safe from UXO”.

Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, Mr Matthewman said the UK government’s funding will also support Norwegian People’s Aid in the training of Lao women and men to identify and remove cluster munition remnants.

Recruitment will take place in some of the poorest areas of southern Laos - Attapeu, Champassak, Saravan and Xekong provinces where employment opportunities are limited. Nearly half of the people recruited by NPA for this project will be women.

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