During the Indo-China war period (1964-73) more than 2 million tonnes of ordinance was dropped on
Most accidents occur as a result of routine daily activities, in rice-fields, villages and forests. Accidents involving children have increased substantially in recent years. An accident occurring in the village centre is likely to claim multiple victims, due to the scattering of fragmentation by exploding ordinance and the proximity of family members or bystanders. Of the victims, roughly 40% are killed and the average age is 26, meaning that accidents kill or disable people who are in their most productive years.
Laos is one of the world's poorest countries, and there is a clear link between rural poverty and UXO (unexploded ordinance) contamination. Population growth increases the pressure to clear more land, forcing villagers into areas they know contain UXO, risking death and injury. The presence of UXOs reduces food production and has profound effects on many infrastructure projects such as school, hospital and road construction. UXO accidents require a high level of care and attention, and consume valuable health resources from a system already burdened from a population that suffers high rates of malaria and other diseases.
UXO LAO was established in 1996. Their mandate is to:
-reduce the number of civilian casualties, and
-to increase the land available for food production and other development activities.
There are 4 components to the program: community awareness, training, survey and clearance. Intrepidís support is for UXO LAOís Community Awareness program. Community awareness teams visit villages disseminating safety messages using multi-media techniques. They also distribute T-shirts, bags, childrenís school notebooks, cartoon books and posters all carrying UXO safety messages. Our support goes a long way with just 20 cents funding a childís school notebook and $2 funding a T-shirt illustrated with safety messages and mine identification information.