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Good news from US Government in Laos

The US Government is providing an additional 90 million dollars for the removal of cluster munitions in Laos over the next three years. - Laos is heavily affected by cluster munition, so this is great news for the people of Laos and for us who work with clearing cluster munition remnants, says Steinar Essen, Head of Humanitarian Disarmament at Norwegian People’s Aid. 

Norwegian People’s Aid is the largest international Humanitarian Disarmament NGO currently working in Lao PDR. With help from United States Department of State we have surveyed nearly 300 villages south in the country since the startup in in 2011. 

- Our staff counts close to 400 employees and run operations in the whole country. The job is primarily concentrated around surveys, where we use our own methodology to survey more than 12 km2 of land in Laos every month. More money means we can intensify this work additionally, says Essen.

It is estimated that remnants from over 80 million cluster bombs and blinds still remain in the Cambodian countryside after the nine yearlong US led «secret war» on Laos that ran parallel to the Vietnam War. US bombing records show an average of 176 military deployments a day over nine years. More than two million tons of bombs were dropped between 1964 and 1973, which is more than the number of bombs used by Germany and Japan combined during World War Two.

- To date, the explosive remnants left behind by this horrific bombing has killed more than 29 000 people and injured more than 21 000 people, says Essen.

President Barack Obama dropped the news on Tuesday as he attended the regional summit ASEAN. It was the first time for a sitting US President to visit the small country after the Vietnam War, and Obama took the opportunity to emphasize America’s moral obligation in helping Laos heal.

08.09.2016 | Ingebjørg Sørenes