U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes announced, on October 16, $2.2 million in new U.S. support to Laos’ national mine clearance operator, UXOs Lao, which will enable it to rehire trained technicians it lost in 2014 as a result of funding difficulties. The UXO Lao teams will be deployed in Houaphanh, Xiengkhouang, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Salavan, and Champassak provinces.
Mr. Rhodes said that the United States is committed to helping Laos clear unexploded ordnance, or UXO, contaminated areas in order to reduce casualties and to increase the productivity of agricultural lands to reduce poverty.
Mr. Rhodes recently visited a UXO Lao team clearing UXO from Ban Pak Ou village in Luang Prabang province. The UXO Lao team briefed Mr. Rhodes on its progress in the village and described the training that the team members must undertake in order to work in this sector. Mr. Rhodes said that he was impressed by the UXO Lao team’s commitment to this work which is so important for the Lao people and especially for the younger generation.
With the new contribution, the United States will have provided more than $100 million in mine-action and UXO-related assistance to Laos.
Priority funding will support clearance of UXO found as a result of “evidence-based survey,” a cutting-edge technique that identifies contaminated areas, more effectively and efficiently than ever before. Victims’ assistance programs will provide direct services to survivors of unexploded ordnance accidents and their families and help strengthen first aid and emergency response of key health facilities and village volunteers in heavily impacted provinces. Funding for risk awareness supports education of Lao citizens – especially children – about the dangers of UXO.
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 United States is proud to work with Laos and its non-governmental partners to free the people of Laos from the threat of landmines, unexploded ordnance and other deadly remnants of war.