On October 16, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes announced $2.2 million in new U.S. support to UXO Lao, which will enable it to rehire trained technicians it lost in 2014 as a result of funding difficulties. The UXO Lao teams will be deployed in Houaphanh, Xiengkhouang, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Salavan, and Champassak provinces.
Mr. Rhodes said that 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 lands to reduce poverty. On October 17, Mr. Rhodes visited a UXO Lao team clearing UXO from Ban Pak Ou in Luang Prabang. The UXO Lao team briefed Mr. Rhodes on its progress in the village and described the training that team members must undertake in order to work in this sector. Mr. Rhodes said that he was very impressed by the UXO Lao team’s commitment to this very important work which is so important for the Lao people and especially for the younger generation.
Since 1993, the United States has provided over $83 million in UXO-related assistance to Laos. In 2015, U.S. funding totaled $15 million. Priority funding will support clearance of UXO found as a result of evidence-based survey of contaminated areas. Victims’ assistance programs will provide direct services to survivors of UXO accidents and their families and help strengthen first aid and emergency response of key health facilities and village volunteers in heavily impacted provinces. Funding for risk awareness supports education of Lao citizens – especially children – about the dangers of UXO.