Germany boosts UXO Lao operations in Luang Prabang
Germany extended its support today to the Lao national Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao), supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), with an additional 271,911 euro (approximately US$ 333,224) contribution.
The funding will go to UXO Lao operations in Luang Prabang Province for 2012. This contribution will cover more than half of the total budget requirement of UXO Lao in the province this year, and will be used for UXO clearance, roving tasks, surveys, land release, as well as risk education and training.
Germany is an active partner to UNDP and has played a leading role in support of the UXO sector in Lao PDR, particularly in Luang Prabang province. Germany has contributed approximately US$ 3.5 million to the UXO Lao Programme since its operations began in 1996. Including support to NGOs active in the UXO sector, the German government has contributed almost 15 million dollar over the years.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Robert von Rimscha, Ambassador of Germany to Lao PDR, said: “Only on the surface removing UXO is about eradicating remnants from the past. In a rapidly developing country like Laos, reducing UXO is really about more opportunities for the future. This is what we happily support.”
The UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Ms. Kyoko Yokosuka, appreciated the commitment and continued support from Germany to tackle the UXO issue in Lao PDR. “This support from Germany is vital in accelerating our efforts to provide safe land for the people of Luang Prabang province.”
The presence and scale of UXO contamination in Lao PDR poses a serious impediment to poverty reduction and the sustainable and equitable development of the country. Close to 100 people are still killed or injured in UXO accidents every year and UXO presence prevents safe access to agricultural land, schools, health clinics and markets. Tackling the UXO issue is a pre-requisite for long-term development. In recognition of this the Government adopted a Lao national Millennium Development Goal 9, to reduce the impact of UXO by 2020.
Strong partnerships and continued support from the international community, such as that from Germany , is required to assist the Lao people in realizing their right to live without harm or fear of UXO and to achieve their aspirations for poverty reduction and graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2020.
Ms. Vidaovanh Phounvixay
Programme Analyst, UXO Unit, UNDP Lao PDR Country Office
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