Australian Government supports UXO Lao
The Australian Government signed an agreement with UNDP today to provide AUD2.5 million to support the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme. The funds will be channelled through the Trust Fund for Support to the Full Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Lao PDR. The contribution is un-earmarked and will help to scale up clearance operations and mine risk education as well as providing quality assurance and control over a two-year period.
Speaking at the hand over ceremony, H.E. Ms. Lynda Worthaisong , Ambassador of Australia to Lao PDR, said, “ We expect that this contribution will improve the lives of affected families by giving them safer access to land for farming and other daily activities." Also present were Mr. Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Bounpone Sayasenh , UXO Lao National Program Director, and Lao Government officials.
Mr Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative said, “The correlation between UXO and poverty is clear to see with 41 out of the 46 poorest districts contaminated by UXO. Australia's contribution is so important in helping to achieve the obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the targets set under Millennium Development Goal 9, the Lao specific MDG, adopted by the Government last year.” Mr Bounpone Sayasenh , UXO Lao National Program Director, also expressed his gratitude to the Australian Government for the multi year commitment, “ This very generous contribution will greatly contribute towards achieving our 2011 and 2012 work plan.”
The presence and scale of UXO in Lao PDR pose humanitarian challenges and are an impediment to poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Bombies from cluster bombs have caused death and injuries to an average of 300 people a year over the past decade. In addition, they prevent safe access to agricultural land and require substantial extra resources for UXO clearance before a ny kind of development, such as road building, tourism development and school construction can take place.
The Government of Australia has played a leading role in support of the UXO sector and has contributed USD 18.9 million to UXO operations in Lao PDR since 1996. In addition, Australia was one of the biggest donors to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions held in Vientiane last year.
The UXO Trust Fund, established in 2010, increases Government ownership, better coordination and effective prioritization of work in the UXO Sector. The Trust Fund also helps to ensure that UXO actions are aligned with the government's national development priorities as outlined in the 7 th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).
Toby Fricker at the UNDP Public Information Unit
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