Visit of the Australian high level officials to UXO Lao Visitors Center in Luangprabang

The Australian high level officials visited UXO Lao Visitors Center in Luangprabang province at 3:00pm in the afternoon on 24 November 2015. This visit was very significant. The purpose of this visit was to open the small opening ceremony of this visitors center.

This Visitor Center was established on 16 March 2009 with the support of Australian Goverment, but it was damaged by short-circuit electricity on 18 June 2014 and then it has been renovated that funded by DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

At the ceremony, Mr. Houmphanh CHANTHAVONG, Luangprabang provincial coordinator provided a briefing about history of UXO in Laos and then Mr. Craig Chittick, First Assistant Secretary for South-East Asia Mainland and Regional Division provided a short speech about their support to this center. This ceremony was also honorly witnessed by Mr. Vongsavanh THEPPHACHANH, Vice-Governor of Luangprabang province. After the opening ceremony, Mr. Houmphanh CHANTHAVONG guided australian high level officials tour in exhibition room and watched a UXO short film. Finally, they left this center at 4:00pm and we closed the ceremony.

US provides funding for UXO Lao

US provides funding for UXO Lao teams to resume work

The United States has provided new support of US$2.2 million to UXO Lao, which will enable it to rehire trained technicians it lost in 2014 as a result of funding difficulties.


Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune ( first left ), Mr Benjamin Rhodes ( second left ), US Ambassador to Laos Mr Daniel Clune ( third left ) and officials from UXO and NRA view the exhibition.

 The UXO Lao teams will be deployed in Huaphanh, Xiengkhuang, Khammouan,  Savannakhet, Salavan, and Champasak provinces, according to a statement from US  Deputy  National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes on 16 October 2015. Mr Rhodes said  the United  States is committed to helping Laos clear UXO from contaminated areas in  order to reduce  casualties and to increase the productivity of agricultural land to reduce  poverty. Since  1993, the United States has provided over US$83 million in UXO-related  assistance to Laos.  In 2015, US funding totalled US$15 million. Priority funding will  support the clearance of  UXO found as a result of evidence-based surveys of  contaminated areas. Victims' assistance  programmes will provide direct services to the  survivors of UXO accidents and their families  and help strengthen the first aid and  emergency response of key health facilities and village  volunteers in heavily impacted  provinces. Funding for risk awareness supports the education  of Lao citizens, especially  children, about the dangers of UXO. General Director of the  National Regulatory  Authority, Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun, said 2015 is a turning point  for the UXO  sector, with approval of the new survey procedures that provide a stronger  evidence-based system for surveys, and implementation by all five humanitarian  clearance   operators. This system helps officials to understand clearly the scope of the  UXO problem  to better estimate the remaining UXO contamination in Laos. It also gives  the sector the  ability to plan the time and funding required to reduce or eliminate casualties from UXO accidents, he added. Mr Phoukhieo said the change includes a more systematic village by village approach in line with the new National Socio-Economic Development Plan indicators. “We have moved from a request-based approach to an evidence-based survey approach, including non-technical survey and technical survey, to establish the Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHAs).”“Firstly, it ensures a better use of the existing resources, by clearing only UXO contaminated land, with a higher number of cluster munitions cleared per hectare. We have already observed the improved results of UXO Lao and other operators due to this new approach,” he added. Secondly, it allows multi-year planning through the allocation of CHAs among clearance operators, in line with the priorities established with local, regional, provincial and national authorities.There are now many defined CHAs waiting to be cleared and, with input from village to national level, a plan to clear these CHAs in the coming years will be developed.“This additional funding to UXO Lao will increase the pace of the survey efforts and more effective clearance; and it will contribute to the full implementation of the new evidence-based concept of operations introduced by UXO Lao at the end of 2014,” Mr Phoukhieo said.

The source is from Vientiane Times newspaper.

Japan to assist Laos with UXO removal, development

TOKYO (Kyodo News) -- Japan will provide grant aid totalling US$11 million to help Laos   speed up the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War    and prepare for hosting ASEAN meetings next year, according to an accord they signed    on Saturday.

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded the agreement at a joint press conference   with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong after witnessing the signing of the   deal  in Tokyo on the fringes of a summit meeting of Japan and five Southeast Asian   Mekong  countries.

US$6.9 million of the deal will be used for UXO removal efforts with US$4.1 million to   assist the country to serve as ASEAN chair next year.

  “Much unexploded ordnance remains in Laos and this is blocking economic and social

development. I strongly hope that efforts to remove it will be accelerated,” Mr Abe said.   Japan's latest aid would also help develop the land after UXO removal aiding efforts torebuild the economy and alleviate poverty in Laos, Japanese officials said.

Mr Thongsing said at the news conference he remained thankful for Japan's financial aid which continues to play a “vital role” in his country's economy and social development. Mr Abe and Mr Thongsing also reaffirmed their cooperation in pushing for infrastructure development in Laos, which is one of the least-developed countries in the 10-member ASEAN.


Japan supports ‘heavy-duty' UXO clearance

The Japanese government is supporting the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao) with four heavy-duty brush cutting machines to speed up the clearance of forest grass and shrubs.

An official from UXO Lao, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday the Japanese government has funded the 2014-2016 project, which uses new technology as part of unexploded munitions clearance for UXO Lao.

The funding is in the form of grant assistance through the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS), valued at over 67.9 billion kip.“Using these machines will actually help to clear forest grass and shrubs on parcels of contaminated land at a much faster rate,” the official said.The project has brought two heavy brush-cutting machines, also known as excavator-slashers, to Laos this year, with another two machines arriving in the next two months.Trainers from NIKKEN, Japan and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) are training 22 UXO Lao staffs to operate the machinery by cutting shrubs on a pilot field in Pakxong district, Champasak province.UXO Lao staff will start clearing forest grass and shrubs immediately after finishing the training course, which is taking place from February to April.Twelve employees have also learnt how to use and control the machinery by cutting shrubs in Cambodia for two months at the end of last year.Currently, UXO Lao is using local families to cut grass before UXO teams arrive to search for unexploded devices.The Japanese brush cutting machines are able to mow about eight hectares of grassland in a day compared to five or six people manually spending a month to clear one hectare.Larger trees in the clearance zone are left untouched as the machines work their way around them. A few years ago the government set a plan to clear 20,000 hectares of land per year until the year of 2020, but the best that has been achieved is 6,000 to 7,000 ha. Hopefully the new machinery will help improve this. UXO has been cleared from over 44,000 hectares of land since 1996. UXO Lao's target is to clear unexploded ordnance from 3,490 hectares of land, but only 3,080 hectares have been cleared due to a lack of funding. More than 66,000 devices were detonated or otherwise deactivated during clearance operations.

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