Official Opening of the Staff Accommodation and Facilities for the UXO Lao teams in Xiengkhouang
November 10, 2023
Deminers and UXO Lao staff in Xiengkhouang, Pek District, have new accommodations and facilities where they can eat, relax and rest in comfortable conditions after long hours of hard work locating and clearing unexploded ordnance. Built with the support of UNDP and the Government of New Zealand, the new facilities were inaugurated on 10 November in the presence of a large delegation of Government officials and development partners.
The opening ceremony was attended by H.E. Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Padeumphone Sonthany, Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, H.E. Mr. Jonathan Kings, Ambassador of New Zealand to Lao PDR, Ms. Martine Thérer, UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR, as well as representatives of line ministries and national institutions, and of development partners supporting the UXO sector, including Canada, Ireland, Japan, and Luxemburg.
H.E. Mr. Sonthany, expressed his appreciation for the generous support provided by the Government of New Zealand towards the development efforts of the country. The Vice Minister added, "Especially for the fact that the Government of New Zealand understands how much UXO can hinder the potential of growth and prosperity for the people who rely heavily on agricultural production to support the livelihood of their families in these affected communities.".
New Zealand Ambassador to Lao PDR, Jonathan Kings commented that “UXO contamination continues to present a threat to the lives and livelihoods of rural populations in Lao PDR”. Ambassador Kings continued that “it is through the dedicated efforts of the on-the-ground clearance teams that we are able to continue to make progress towards reducing this threat for the current and future generations of Laotians. To this end, New Zealand is proud to formally hand over this new accommodation block to UXO Lao to support its Xiengkhouang clearance team. Our hope is that it provides a safe and comfortable respite while you continue this important work.”
Mrs. Martine Thérer, Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR, remarked, “Survey and clearance work is expensive, painstaking and tedious, but it is essential. UXO makes everyday activities risky. It hinders children from playing safely outside, constrains agricultural expansion, and disrupts forest management and the safe use of land”. Therefore, Mrs. Thérer expressed her sincere gratitude to the women and men of UXO Lao, for their dedication and commitment, to save lives and to pave the way for a peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Lao PDR.
The clearance of UXO is a critical priority of the government of Lao PDR in addressing the legacies of war. UNDP is proud to support the Government in these efforts with solid support from various development partners, ensuring as many people as possible can live free from the fear of the risks of UXO. New Zealand has been a long-lasting partner for the UXO sector and a valued long-term contributor to the work of UXO Lao through UNDP for Xiengkhouang Province. New Zealand’s contribution ensures that operations in UXO Lao Xiengkhouang can be implemented without interruptions since 2014, supporting clearance activities, land surveys and risk education in this province. According to the NRA dashboard, as of October 2023, since 2014, with New Zealand’s support, more than 3,482 hectares (similar size with approximately 4,900 soccer fields) of land have been cleared in Xiengkhouang province.
During the visit, Ambassador Kings also announced that New Zealand would provide an additional 1.5 million New Zealand Dollars on top of the current support with 10.3 million New Zealand Dollars in funding through the UNDP in order to boost UXO Lao’s clearance operations over the next year.
The field visit was organized as a part of the Government of Lao PDR and UNDP UXO programme entitled “Supporting Effectiveness and Efficiency in the UXO Sector to contribute to the achievement of SDG 18 and Safe Path Forward III” funded by the governments of Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea from 2022 to 2026.
For more information, please contact:
Aksonethip Somvorachit, Communications Analyst, UNDP Lao PDR
Telephone: 021 267 778
Mobile: 020 5502 1550
 Safe Path Forward III is the National ten-year strategic plan for the UXO sector (2021-2030) endorsed by Lao government in July 2022.
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