Over 1.8 million unexploded ordnance (UXO) devices have been cleared from 79,599 hectares of land from 1996 to February 2023, making agricultural land safe for farmers and freeing up other areas for development.
The figures were released by Lao Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Padeumphone Sonthany at a press conference in the Lao capital Vientiane on Tuesday to mark the 18th International Day for UXO/Mine Awareness.
Of the 1,808,254 UXO devices removed and detonated, 1,056,393 were cluster bombs, 4,336 were large bombs and 2,456 were land mines, while 745,069 other types of munitions were also located and detonated, Lao National TV reported on Wednesday, citing the UXO update.
From 2015 to 2022, assistance was provided to 2,846 people who were victims of UXO-related accidents.
In terms of mine risk education, people in 4,092 villages were made aware of the dangers posed by the UXO and the need for caution, the report said.
The large number of UXO devices that remain in the ground have continued to cause physical damage and affect people's livelihoods. It is an obstacle to the use of land for agricultural production, and an obstacle to the socio-economic development of Laos.
Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world in terms of 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 U.S. warplanes, leaving an estimated 80 million live bomblets scattered and buried around the Southeast Asian country.
(Cover: U.S. Navy armorers wheel out 500-pound bombs for the wing racks of jets being used in support for South Vietnamese troops fighting the enemy in Laos, March 18, 1971. /AP)