Government of Lao PDR and UNDP mark International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

Apr 4, 2017

Members of the Government of Lao PDR, Ambassadors, development organisations, and bodies active in the unexploded ordnance sector all participated on Tuesday in an event to mark International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in Vientiane.

At the event, H.E. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare stated that Lao PDR is the most heavily-bombed country in the world per capita, and stressed the consequences of this: “With 41 out of the 46 poorest districts contaminated by UXO the link between UXO and poverty is clear to see. UXO contamination is a barrier for social-economic development”. The Minister chairs the Board of the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector (NRA), which has endorsed ambitious plans for surveying land, clearing priority areas identified according to a transparent system, educating affected communities about risks, and supporting victims of accidents.

This year’s theme for the Mine Awareness Day is “Needs driven. People centred.” Sad proof of the importance of this slogan became evident during the last weeks in Laos, where a serious UXO accident happened in Xieng Khouang Province, claiming the life of a young girl, and leaving several injured, many of them children. The importance of putting people in the center of the UXO sector’s activities is all the more evident through these accidents, said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Kaarina Immonen at the event: “UNDP and other stakeholders are working with the Government to improve the methods in terms of reaching the most isolated people. Too many people in Laos live very near or literally on UXO contaminated land.”

Lao PDR’s own national 18th Sustainable Development Goal on removing the UXO obstacle to development, adding to the 17 global goals with the target date of 2030, sets the tone and pace for the UXO sector. “SDG 18 is about removing UXO hazards as quickly as possible in the poorest affected communities; educating locals about the risks of UXO; and providing the necessary support to victims when accidents do inevitably happen,” Ms. Immonen said, highlighting that UNDP’s support to this work is guided by the principle of leaving no one behind and by twenty years of experience supporting the Government of Lao PDR in the sector.

UNDP and the Government of Lao PDR will begin a new joint 5-year programme to address the challenges created by UXO this year, with a focus on transparent task prioritisation, inclusive victim assistance, effective quality assurance, and strong financial management. 

Contact Information:

Vilavong Sysavath, Programme Officer, National Regulatory Authority for UXO and Mine Action, Tel: (+856) 20 5504 2115, Email: vilavong@gmail.com

 

Souphalack Bounphadith, Planning and Reporting Officer, UXO Unit, UNDP Lao PDR; Tel: (+856) 21 267 746, Mobile: (+856) 20 2878 7460, Email: souphalack.bounpadith@undp.org