Laos targets to clear UXO from over 7,000 hectares of land in 2020

August 21, 2020

Lao National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the UXO/Mine Action Sector has set a target to clear and destroy unexploded ordnance (UXO) on over 7,000 hectares of land in 2020.

The target was reported on Tuesday at the UXO Sector Working Group meeting to summarize its activities over the first six months of 2020 and plans for the rest of the year.

The COVID-19 pandemic had impacted UXO operations, especially clearance projects which were suspended, local daily Vientiane Times on Thursday quoted Khampheng as saying.

Head of Office of the NRA, Chomyaeng Phengthongsawath said that for the last six months of 2020 the authority would continue to aim to clear 7,761 hectares and conduct technical surveys to identify confirmed hazardous areas (CHA) on 42,130 hectares.

The NRA reported that during the first six months, 2,239 hectares of land were cleared, 7,870 hectares of CHA were identified, and 310 villages surveyed. Clearance teams destroyed 44,868 items of UXO including 33,521 cluster munitions.

From 2021-2025, the NRA is aiming to clear 50,000 hectares of land, conduct non-technical surveys in 2,776 villages and technical surveys to identify CHA on 250,000 hectares, and undertake mine risk education in 3,000 communities.

According to the National UXO Program (UXO Lao), during the first six months of the year, they were able to clear 966 hectares comprising 965 hectares of farmland and destroy 13,454 UXO items including 12,236 cluster munitions.

In addition, a total of 1,366 hectares, including 1,333 hectares of agricultural land was identified as hazardous.

UXO Lao has set a target to clear 1,423 hectares of land and carry out non-technical surveys in 17 villages and technical surveys on 1,889 hectares.

Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. Throughout 1964-1973, over 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos, of which 30 percent failed to explode.

Over 270 million cluster munitions were dropped from American aircraft, leaving an estimated 80 million live bomblets scattered and buried around the country.