UXO/Mine Action as an urgent investment in human security cannot wait any longer
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2023
April 4, 2023
In 2023, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action reminds the world of the long-term legacies that war has left in Southeast Asia. Commemoration of the day draws the international community’s attention to unexploded ordnance (UXO)/Mine Action as an urgent investment in human security that cannot wait any longer.
On 4th April this year, with support from the Government of the Republic of Korea, the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) co-hosted a press conference to celebrate the International Day for Mine Action Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Representatives from Lao government and development partners of the UXO Sector including the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Lao PDR, representatives from Canada, Germany and the United States of America and humanitarian UXO operators including Mine Advisory Group (MAG) and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) were present at the event.
Warmly welcoming the participants, Mr. Padeumphone Sonthany, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and Deputy Chairperson of NRA, highlighted, “UXO work cannot wait as it is an enabler for development to implement the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and ten-year national UXO sector strategy (SPF III 2021-2030)”. He also emphasized local ownership to UXO action as well as continued attention and support from international communities. To add, he expressed his sincere appreciation to development partners including UNDP, the international development agencies, INGOs and all relevant stakeholders for their continued partnership.
According to the findings from Post Clearance Impact Assessment conducted in 2022, Ms. Catherine Phuong, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP said, “Over the past four decades, Lao people have learned to live and conduct their livelihoods in areas which have contamination”. She added “It is not ok because people in Lao PDR have no choice but to cultivate UXO-contaminated land, because otherwise, they have nothing to eat. So UXO action in Lao PDR is still urgent and overdue investment in human security.”
In addition, the year marks the 50th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords, which officially ended the conflict in Vietnam (1963 – 1974) which had impacted the entire region, including Lao PDR. These years of conflict left Lao PDR scarred by an estimated 80 million undetonated cluster munitions, forcing generations to drastically alter their lives in order to avoid the threat of UXO.
Contamination from explosive remnants of war have slowed socio-economic development in the Lao PDR. Accordingly, in September 2016, the Government of Lao PDR and the United Nations launched a Lao-specific Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 18: Lives safe from UXO, to highlight the importance of removing the UXO obstacle to national development.
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