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Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Landmine Monitor Report 2004

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Key developments since May 2003: Laos adopted a National Strategic Plan for its unexploded ordnance program in March 2004. The plan creates a new National Regulatory Authority to oversee and coordinate UXO/mine action activities, and redefines the role of UXO Lao. Victim assistance is included in the plan, and resources from the UNDP Trust Fund will be available for both physical rehabilitation and socio-economic integration. UXO Lao cleared 8.8 million square meters of land in 2003, destroying 54,420 pieces of UXO, and the Australian commercial company Milsearch cleared an estimated 6 million square meters of land. Mine risk education was provided in 628 villages and 911 schools, reaching 237,635 people. In 2003, there were at least 118 new UXO/mine casualties, compared to 99 in 2002. There have been unconfirmed allegations of new use of antipersonnel mines by the Lao military. The government has shown increasing interest in future accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Key developments since 1999: From 1996 to 2003, UXO Lao cleared 43.96 million square meters of land, benefiting an estimated 1.5 million people, including 33.36 million square meters since 1999. The Australian commercial company Milsearch reports clearing 26 million square meters from 1993-2003. More than 600,000 pieces of UXO and mines have been cleared, including more than 400,000 since 1999. Since 1996, more than 1.14 million people have received UXO and mine risk education in Laos, including more than 900,000 since 1999. During a funding crisis in mid-2002, UXO Lao reduced its staff by more than half, but regained capacity in 2003 and 2004. There have been more than 11,000 UXO/mine casualties since 1973, including at least 544 since 1999.

Mine Ban Policy

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty, but has shown increasing interest in future accession. At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok in September 2003, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Phongsavath Boupha stated, “We share the humanitarian endeavors of the Convention and the concern of the international community.... In addition, we will continue our further efforts to consider the possibility and ability of our country to accede to the Convention.”[1]

In February 2004, the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, who oversees the national unexploded ordnance (UXO) program, told Landmine Monitor: “In the future, we plan to join this treaty, since it will become international law.... We confirm that we will send a delegation to every meeting of this treaty. We will also hold our own workshops among stakeholders within the government to discuss possibilities and prepare for signing.”[2] The National Strategic Plan (NSP) for the UXO program similarly states that “the Government of Lao PDR will continue to consider the possibility of becoming a state party to the Convention.”[3]

During an interview in February 2004, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that a new border treaty with Thailand was under negotiation, and stated that once the demarcation process is finished, “There will be no more need to use landmines.”[4]

In May 2003, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative told Landmine Monitor, “Laos is seriously considering to accede to the treaty. Efforts are being made to raise the awareness of officials and population over this very issue.”[5] Three provincial workshops on the Mine Ban Treaty were held in the first half of 2004, followed by a Canadian-sponsored national consultation in June 2004 with significant participation from the Ministries of Defense and Security.[6]

In December 1994, Laos was one of the first governments to call publicly for an immediate, comprehensive ban on antipersonnel landmines.[7] However, Laos did not participate in the Ottawa Process. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs began a review of its stand on the Mine Ban Treaty in late 2000.[8] Laos for the first time attended as an observer an annual Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2001 in Nicaragua. It participated in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in September 1999, March 2000, and January 2002, but not the most recent meetings in February and June 2004. Laos also participated in the regional landmines seminars in Malaysia (August 2001), Thailand (May 2002), and Cambodia (March 2003). Laos has been absent from voting on every pro-mine ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 in December 2003.

A number of reasons have been put forward for the government’s reluctance to join the Mine Ban Treaty. The military’s desire to keep the weapon is one. On a number of occasions, Lao officials have emphasized the view that, “States have the legitimate right to use such weapons for the defense of their national independence and territorial integrity as provided for in the Charter of the UN.”[9] A Foreign Ministry official has said that the main reason Laos has not signed was its concern that it would not be able to meet the treaty’s deadline for destruction of mines in the ground. Others have said that Laos is likely to stay out of the treaty as long as China and Vietnam are not a part.[10]

In June 2004, the governments of Laos and Canada co-hosted a seminar in Laos on the treaty. Canadian officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who attended the seminar reported that the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos participated and announced the intention of his government to participate in the Nairobi Summit. Canada's former Chief of Defence Staff, General Maurice Baril, participated in the seminar and also met separately with the Vice-Minister of Defence to discuss the treaty. During these discussions, Canada was told that while Laos has no strong objection to the Convention, there remain some concerns, including the perception that accession to the Convention and/or meeting its obligations is a complicated process. Lao PDR's primary concern remains UXO.[11]

Laos is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines, but not Amended Protocol II. It did not attend any CCW-related meetings in the reporting period.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

In 2004, the Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that the country does not produce antipersonnel mines, adding that it has no production facilities. He confirmed that Laos possesses a stockpile of imported antipersonnel mines, which he characterized as “relatively small.”[12] These mines are likely of Chinese, Soviet, and Vietnamese origin. There is no evidence of Laos exporting mines in the past. Also in 2004, the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare declared, “Laos does not buy or sell mines.”[13] It is unclear whether this statement reflects a permanent moratorium on the import or acquisition of mines.

The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that in the past Lao armed forces laid landmines “in some border points in order to defend the nation, since we had past border confrontations with Thailand, a low population, and inadequate people to patrol the border.” He added, “Unless there are people trying to infringe on our territory, there won’t be any casualties.”[14]

Unconfirmed allegations emerged in 2003 of new mine use by the Lao military in an ongoing low-intensity conflict. In an October 2003 press release, Amnesty International said the organization was “very concerned at the reported use of anti-personnel mines by the Lao military.”[15] In December, an Amnesty researcher told Landmine Monitor that he believes that “new anti-personnel mines are being laid and used in Laos by the Lao military in the context of the on-going internal armed conflict with pockets of ethnic minority groups, predominantly Hmong.”[16] In March 2004, he said he believes “anti-personnel mines are being used by all sides to the on-going conflict.”[17]

The 2003 Amnesty allegations were based mainly on the reports of two Time magazine researchers, Andrew Perrin and Philip Blenkinsop, who visited Laos covertly in January 2003 and interviewed a “ragtag army” of Hmong rebels hiding in the forests of the Saysomboune Special Zone. Perrin wrote that “all avenues of escape [are] blocked by either soldiers or antipersonnel mines.”[18] In particular, the journalists said military forces were placing antipersonnel mines with tripwires across jungle tracks used by rebels.[19]

The journalists’ account mirrors video footage smuggled out of Laos by the US-based Fact Finding Commission (FFC), an anti-government group that supports “freedom fighters.”[20] Video on the FFC website includes footage and still photos of landmines and shrapnel injuries. One shot, dated 23 December 2002, shows a close-up of a Soviet-style POMZ mine, one of the most common types found in Laos.[21] There is no way to determine from the footage and photos whether the landmines were newly laid or remaining from the Indochina War era.

Asked about the allegations of recent mine use, the Deputy Prime Minister responded, “There is no insurgency group. This is an unfounded story made up by exile groups in the US.”[22]

US officials in Vientiane suggested that Lao forces could be using booby-traps and other improvised explosive devices, rather than antipersonnel mines, possibly as perimeter defenses for army bases that have come under rebel attack.[23] Explosive booby-traps and IEDs are also prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty. According to a US official, there is also at least one credible account of the use of “a landmine or some kind of explosive” by insurgent groups in Xieng Khouang province, dating back to 2001.[24]

Landmine Monitor is unable to confirm the allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by Lao military forces. While Time magazine and Amnesty International are credible and respected sources of information, it remains unclear if there has indeed been new use of mines by government forces. There are no eyewitness accounts or testimony, and other explanations are plausible. The landmines that were seen could be Indochina War era mines, and the injuries sustained could have been from UXO or mines laid long ago. It could be that in the course of battle, government troops drove insurgents into areas heavily contaminated from the past. The number of sources of information and number of allegations regarding new mine use are both quite small, and there has not been confirmation from the mine action community, other NGOs in country, UN sources or diplomatic sources.[25]

Landmine/UXO Problem

Laos is the most bombed country per capita in world history, with more than two million tons of ordnance, including 80 million cluster bombs or “bombies,” dropped during the Indochina War especially between 1964-1973. An estimated 10 to 30 percent of this ordnance failed to explode, leaving up to 25 million bombies still on the ground. Laos is also contaminated with heavy bombs, rockets, grenades, artillery munitions, mortars and landmines.[26] Clearance teams have found at least 120 different types of ordnance scattered across Laos, including 13 types of cluster bombs, some of which can kill people up to 200 meters away.[27]

Based on US bombing data and survey results in the UXO Lao database, 87,213 square kilometers, or 37 percent of the country’s land area, is at risk from unexploded ordnance. Of those, 12,427 square kilometers are considered “high risk.”[28] The 1997 National Survey on the Socio-Economic Impact of UXO, conducted by Handicap International (HI), covered 69 percent of districts in the country and identified 2,861 villages, or 25 percent of all villages nationwide, with “continued presence of UXO.” Ten of the country’s 18 provinces are described as “severely contaminated,”[29] the most heavily contaminated provinces being Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Saravane, and Khammouane.[30]

UXO Lao reports that it has cleared less than 44 square kilometers in seven years of operations.[31] According to the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Somphanh Phengkhammy, clearance of high priority agricultural land will take 24 years, and complete clearance, including lower priority land, will take over 100 years.[32]

Landmines are a small part of the problem, compared to cluster munitions and other types of unexploded ordnance. During the Indochina War all parties laid antipersonnel mines including the Royal Army, the army of the Pathet Lao, Vietnamese, and US forces. According to the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, “We don’t say we have no landmine problem, but this is mostly along border areas, which mostly don’t affect people’s living conditions.”[33] Still, the Mines Action Group (MAG) believes there may be more than 1,000 minefields nationwide.[34] The UXO Lao branch in Xieng Khouang province has identified 30 minefields. Only eighteen of these have been marked, and two fenced off.[35] An ICBL representative visited Hmong villages in Xieng Khouang in 2003 and saw hilltops ringed with mines and booby-trapped mortars.[36] Many minefields used to be far from villages, but as more people have moved into previously unused land, this is no longer the case.

Prior to the inception of UXO Lao field operations in 1996, most clearance in Laos, particularly of smaller cluster munitions, was conducted by farmers themselves, facing no other alternative. Military clearance in the immediate post-war period prioritized defusing large bombs and resettling internally displaced refugees.

In some parts of the country, scrap metal and bomb collection is reportedly on the upsurge. The UXO Lao national director describes scrap metal collection as “a big problem.” Average resale prices are 2000-5000 kip/kg for metal ($0.20-0.50) and 10,000-15,000 kip for explosives ($1-1.50).[37] NGOs working in areas along the former Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos find large numbers of foragers, including children, hunting for scrap metal on a seasonal basis. In Xepon and Phine districts, Savannakhet province, metal detectors are sold in local markets for as little as $16.[38] As new roads and improved infrastructure comes to the region, scrap hunters have easier access to markets where they can sell metal and explosives. Traders also cross the border from Vietnam, where scrap metal collection and explosive tampering are serious issues. Laws against transport and sale of explosives exist in both countries, but governments have limited control over local villagers’ actions.[39]

Surveys and Assessments

Handicap International’s National Impact Survey released in 1997 remains the main reference, as no other comprehensive technical survey has been conducted since. The National Strategic Plan emphasizes the need for “stepped-up technical surveys” on the village level as part of a process to obtain a “reasonably accurate estimate of total suspected contaminated areas.” These surveys, to be conducted by four to eight survey teams for each of the nine UXO Lao provinces, are projected to be completed by June 2005.[40] Survey teams plan to visit 1,073 villages in 2004.[41]

UXO Lao staff has been entering data from completed surveys into Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) version 1.1. Additional data about destroyed devices and perimeter details will be entered once IMSMA version 2.2 has been received and installed.[42] The Post-Clearance Impact Assessment that was scheduled to begin with UN Development Programme (UNDP) assistance in 2003 has not yet begun, as UXO Lao continues to work its way back to full operating capacity.[43]

Several smaller surveys and research projects are currently underway. Two HI consultants completed a UNDP-funded feasibility study for a national UXO/mine accident database in June 2004.[44] Another HI project, studying the psycho-social impacts of UXO/mine accidents on children and their families, has been conducted in 2004. The report was scheduled for completion by November 2004.[45] HI also carried out a village feasibility study in Nong district, Savannakhet, in November-December 2003.[46]

Coordination and Planning of Mine Action

The Lao National UXO program (UXO Lao) is responsible for mine and UXO clearance. It was established in 1995 with the support of UNDP, UNICEF and other stakeholders. In 2000, all field staff from international implementing partners was transferred to UXO Lao contracts, and 2001 saw the nationalization of all field operations. At the end of 2002, the government of Laos launched a process to redefine the roles and structure of the national UXO program, following a clash flow crisis that highlighted some structural problems.

The new National Strategic Plan, titled “The Safe Path Forward,” was promulgated by Prime Ministerial Decree 33/PM on 17 March 2004.[47] Developed by the Lao government with UNDP support, the plan creates a new National Regulatory Authority (NRA) to oversee and coordinate UXO/mine action activities. The NRA, which will report directly to the Prime Minister, is composed of representatives from all concerned government ministries, with observers from the donor community. Operating agencies, whether national or international, will report to the NRA. UXO Lao will shift to become a UXO/mine clearance agency only, without a national coordinating function. Agencies will be grouped into three sectoral components: Community Awareness, Clearance (including humanitarian, commercial and military), and Victim Assistance. UXO Lao will remain under the umbrella of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, while the Ministry of Information and Culture will oversee risk education and the Ministry of Health will oversee victim assistance.[48] UXO Lao will continue to work in the nine provinces where it currently operates; independent operators may be able to expand into areas not being covered by UXO Lao.[49]

The NSP also sets objectives and priorities for national mine action programs over the ten-year period 2003-2013. Prioritization of tasks will be linked to the government’s National Poverty Eradication Program (NPEP) and UXO Lao will coordinate with the State Planning Committee and Committee for Poverty Reduction to support poverty reduction in each province.[50]

The NSP further divides contaminated areas into high, medium and low priority, to be categorized after the planned village impact survey. High priority areas include agricultural land, roving clearance, health and educational facilities. Medium priorities are grazing and forest land, government buildings and other public areas such as markets. Low priority tasks include business or commerical areas, infrastructure, and tourism. UXO Lao is expected to focus on the high priority category, completing clearance or marking of all these areas by 2013. Low priority areas are expected to be handled by commercial operators.[51]

Regarding UXO Lao activities, the NSP envisions a doubling of output in terms of area cleared, based simply on productivity gains from reorganization and improved clearance methodologies. From a current level of approximately eight million square meters per year, UXO Lao’s yearly output is projected to reach a high point of 20 million square meters by 2008, with staffing and clearance capacity remaining constant.[52]

UXO Lao conducts pre-clearance assessments in each province before forming its annual national workplan. In June of each year, provincial UXO Lao offices meet with provincial and district authorities, considering local needs and requests together with available funding, national priorities and plans for post-clearance use. More than 10 million square meters of land was surveyed in 2003, with about 80 percent of this selected for clearance.[53] Concerns continue to be raised by international NGOs about the transparency of this process and how much local villagers participate in assessment decisions.[54]

Mine/UXO Clearance

Clearance is currently being carried out by three separate agencies: UXO Lao, the Lao military, and an Australian-Lao commercial joint venture.

In 2003, UXO Lao cleared 8.8 million square meters, including 6.76 million square meters of farmland and 2.04 million square meters of other land, in the nine provinces of its operation. [55] A total of 54,420 pieces of ordnance were removed. Roving teams visited 1,346 villages nationwide, 6 percent higher than the annual target.[56]

In the first quarter of 2004, UXO Lao cleared 2.82 million square meters of agricultural land and 0.45 million square meters of other land, removing 20,360 pieces of ordnance.[57] In the same period roving teams visited 397 villages. The targets for 2004 are clearance of 11.3 million square meters of land and roving team visits of 1,108 villages.[58]

From 1996 to 2003, UXO Lao cleared 43.96 million square meters of land for agriculture and community development, benefiting an estimated 1.5 million people. The clearance operations destroyed 528,998 items of UXO and mines, including 232,800 cluster bomblets. Over 80 percent of these items have been destroyed by roving teams.[59] In the five-year review period, 1999-2003, UXO Lao cleared 33.36 million square meters and destroyed 406,645 items of UXO and mines.[60] In addition, the Australian commercial company Milsearch has reported clearing an estimated 26 million square meters of land from 1993-2003, destroying more than 73,000 UXO and mines.

During a funding crisis in mid-2002, UXO Lao reduced its staff from 1,130 to 503 people. In 2003, the program returned to 75 percent of full capacity and met 95 percent of its clearance goals. By December 2003, 20 of 24 clearance teams were in full operation, with a 21st restored in January 2004. Two of the three remaining laid-off teams were expected to resume operations by the end of March 2004.[61] Clearance operations in many areas were reportedly hampered by equipment shortages. Much of UXO Lao’s physical assets, from metal detectors to vehicles, were acquired between 1996 and 2000 and are now worn out or broken down.[62]

UXO Lao continued to receive support from five implementing partners including Belgian military, GERBERA, Handicap International, Mines Advisory Group, and Norwegian People’s Aid.

The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a British demining NGO, began clearance in Xieng Khouang province in 1994, and in Saravane province in 1997. By the end of 2000, MAG completed the process of transferring its operations to UXO Lao. In 2003, MAG in partnership with UXO Lao conducted trials in Xieng Khouang on Villager Assisted Clearance (VAC), which is aimed at training people from heavily affected communities to play a role in clearance near their villages. Eighteen residents were trained to clear brush and identify contaminated areas. Professional clearance teams work alongside the village workers to conduct excavations and destroy the ordnance. Villagers were paid 20,000 kip ($2) per day for this work and were able to clear 50,000 square meters of land over a period of six months.[63]

Also in Xieng Khouang, MAG and UXO Lao conducted a pilot project using explosive detection dogs from October 2003 to January 2004. The project, with $140,000 of funding from Denmark, covered an area of 15,000 square meters.[64] This four-month test utilized explosive detection dogs from Sweden that were deployed to Xieng Khouang. This was the first time that Explosive Detection Dogs have been used in Laos. During this test, the dogs and handlers from SWEDEC, a branch of the Swedish military, worked alongside UXO Lao technicians in Xieng Khouang supervised by MAG. These preliminary tests showed an increase in the amount of land cleared of up to 300 percent.[65] In 2004, MAG together with UXO Lao, conducted a short minefield survey in Xieng Khouang with a view to providing clearance support as the pressure for land increases. MAG is currently working with UNESCO to begin clearance operations on three heavily-visited tourist sites on the Plain of Jars Sites in Xieng Khouang.[66]

Handicap International has provided technical assistance to UXO Lao operations in Savannahkhet since 1997. The fourth and final phase of its technical assistance, funded by the European Commission, was slated to conclude in August 2004, but will likely be extended as many activities were delayed as a result of the UXO Lao financial crisis.[67] HI began to provide technical assistance to UXO Lao in Khammouane province in March 2004, with a yearly budget of $197,625.[68]

The German demining company Gerbera operates as a UXO Lao implementing partner under its associated NGO, Potsdam Kommunikation. It has been working in the provinces of Houaphan since 1996 and Luang Prabang since 1998. Gerbera plans to transfer this program entirely to Lao counterparts by 2005. The number of expatriate experts has been reduced from six to two in 2004; their priorities include training and capacity building, particularly on emergency ordnance disposal and other technical issues.[69]

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) has provided technical assistance to UXO Lao in Sekong province since late 1997 and in Attapeu province since 1998. During 2003 it continued to provide one advisor on quality management and one on technical EOD issues in both provinces. A seconded financial advisor to UXO Lao is based in Vientiane. Funding was due at the end of 2004, but NPA expected at least two of the advisors to continue thereafter.[70]

Teams of Belgium military technical advisors provided support in Champassak province from early 1998. In 2003, bilateral funding from the Belgian military supported two international technical advisors.[71] World Vision Australia provided technical assistance to UXO Lao in Khammouane province from 1999 to 2002.

There is one commercial company conducting UXO clearance in Laos. Milsearch Pty. Ltd. (Australia) is engaged in a joint venture with Bolisat Phathana Khetphoudoi, a company under the Lao Ministry of Defense. The partners have completed more than 30 clearance contracts in the past decade. Customers have included mining, oil and hydropower companies, as well as AusAid, UNDP, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Bank.[72] The company manager estimates that 35-40 percent of their work has been World Bank and Asian Development Bank loan-funded projects. Contracts in early 2004 included site clearance for the Xepon gold mine (Savannakhet province), the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project, the construction of power lines in Khammouane and Savannakhet provinces, and the provision of clean drinking water and basic sanitation services in ten provinces throughout the country. Milsearch-BPKP’s staff peaked at over 1,000 in mid-2003 and now consists of 550 Lao, the majority civilians. The company cleared an estimated total of 6 million square meters of land in 2003.[73] Milsearch reports that from 1993-2002 it cleared approximately 2,000 hectares (20 million square meters) and destroyed some 73,000 items of UXO, including 318 landmines.[74]

Little is known about direct clearance by the Lao army. The military is responsible for clearance in border regions and for border marking with Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. At the same time, it also engages in commercial contracts, including several with the Asian Development Bank on road construction, irrigation and rural electrification. These contracts are awarded by international competitive bidding and typically include a separate quality assurance component.[75] Gerbera has engaged in quality assurance contracts with the army, including on the Asia Development Bank-funded upgrading of Route 9 through Savannakhet province.[76]

International operators who have worked with the Lao army note that pay and professional standards are low. Some areas reportedly have to be re-cleared three or four times before meeting quality standards. One expert reports that he has seen children conducting excavations for military clearance sites. Official sources confirm that the military often lacks necessary equipment to complete clearance tasks.[77] Around the Nam Theun 2 site, the army completed its portion of resettlement clearance in February 2003, then contracted Milsearch to conduct a quality assurance survey. The company refused to certify the results and has declined any further work with the army.[78]

The National Strategic Plan places all commercial and military operators under the oversight of the National Regulatory Authority.

UXO/Mine Risk Education

UXO Lao has been the major agency conducting UXO and mine risk education. In addition, in 2003 and 2004 two projects supported by UNICEF have focused on awareness raising among children.

UXO Lao community awareness (CA) teams visited 512 villages nationwide in 2003, 26 percent below the target set in the annual workplan, and reached 130,169 people.[79] In 2004, the UXO Lao workplan targets 542 villages for community awareness team visits and a further development of a network of village volunteers in four provinces.[80] From January to March 2004, teams visited 123 villages in nine provinces and recorded 28,823 beneficiaries, 43 percent of them children.[81]

Between 1996 and 1998, UXO Lao teams provided risk education to more than 233,000 people in 953 villages. In 1999, the totals were 178,846 persons from 747 villages; in 2000, 256,582 people in 814 villages; in 2001, an estimated 182,000 people in 766 villages; in 2002, 160,053 people in 683 villages; and in 2003, 130,169 in 512 villages. Thus, since 1996, more than 1.14 million people have received UXO and mine risk education in Laos, including more than 900,000 since 1999.

The effectiveness of community awareness activities in Laos remains unclear, as no study or evaluation has been conducted to link CA to reduced casualty rates. Some new victims in Xieng Khouang were people who recently took part in CA activities.[82] Villagers surveyed by HI in Savannakhet province remembered little of the awareness messages after education sessions except for the “don’t’s”: don’t touch, don’t move[83]--practices that run counter to what many people have done on a near-daily basis since the Indochina War.

Beginning in 2004, the National Strategic Plan calls for UXO Lao to transfer its community awareness teams to other implementing agencies.[84] The Ministry of Information and Culture will become the oversight agency for CA nationwide and will work with the Ministry of Education to develop a national curriculum. The NSP set the goal of reaching all impacted villages identified in the 1997 national survey.[85] The UNDP chief technical advisor identifies CA as one area where more cooperation among government, donors and NGOs would be useful and beneficial.[86]

Since 1999 the American NGO Consortium (World Education and World Learning) has worked with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, Lao Youth Union, and Lao Women’s Union to implement a UXO education curriculum in primary schools in four provinces: Houaphan, Xieng Khouang, Savannakhet and Saravane. In 2003, the project expanded to cover 19 districts and reach 90,000 students in 911 schools.[87]

As a follow-up of an evaluation conducted in 2000, UNICEF launched the “Sport-in-a-Box” project. The project expanded significantly in 2003, reaching 17,466 children in 116 villages in six southern provinces, compared to 7,020 children the previous year. UNICEF claims that the project activities, which link safety messages to alternative behaviors such as sports and creative arts, has led to changes in children’s behavior and parental attitudes. This project, done in cooperation with the Lao Youth Union, targets both out-of-school and in-school youth, ages 6-18, with a greater emphasis on those out of class and at risk of becoming involved in scrap metal and explosives collection. No casualties have been reported among children who have participated in the project, though parents and other family members have been killed or injured.[88] The project, budgeted at $320,000, is fully funded in 2004, with possible expansion planned later in the year.[89]

Mine Action Funding

According to information provided to and gathered by Landmine Monitor, ten donor governments and the European Commission contributed about $5.27 million to mine action in Laos in 2003, including funds for the UNDP Trust Fund and other bilateral contributions.[90]

  • Australia: A$ 392,000 ($255,600) to UNICEF for UXO safety;
  • Belgium: €538,158 ($608,900) including €135,000 to the UNDP Trust Fund;
  • Canada: C$235,705 ($171,593), including US$145,600 to UNDP and US$25,993 to Garneau International for physical and social rehabilitation;
  • European Commission: €1,175,000 ($1,329,512), including €900,000 ($1,018,350) for mine/UXO clearance and €275,000 ($311,200) for MRE and victim assistance;[91]
  • Finland: €300,000 ($339,500) to UNDP and UXO Lao for mine/UXO clearance;
  • Germany: €562,025 ($635,900) to Potsdam Kommunikation for mine/UXO clearance;
  • Japan: $200,000 to UNDP for MRE;
  • RO Korea: $50,000 to UN Voluntary Trust Fund for mine/UXO clearance;
  • Luxembourg: €200,000 ($226,300) to the UNDP Trust Fund;
  • New Zealand: NZ$457,985 ($266,500), including NZ$196,672 to UNDP Trust Fund and NZ$261,313 for mine/UXO clearance.
  • United States: $1,184,452, including $699,257 to NPA for technical assistance to UXO Lao,[92] and $485,195 to MAG (through the Trust Fund) for clearance in Saravane province and a UXO Lao technical advisor.[93]

In 1995, a Trust Fund was established under the UNDP to finance a nationwide program of UXO/mine clearance. According to UXO Lao, donor contributions to the UNDP Trust Fund totaled $3.16 million in 2003:[94] Australia $302,750; Canada $105,705; Denmark $1,039,423; Finland $345,623; Italy $161,464; Luxembourg $200,000; New Zealand $129,338; South Korea $40,000; and United Kingdom $575,000. Another $260,000 in core funding came from UNDP headquarters.[95] These totals in many cases do not match the figures provided by the donors. Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom do not report providing funds to the UNDP Trust Fund in 2003. In some cases, funds used by UXO Lao in 2003 had been allocated in 2002 or previous years.

From 1996 to 2003 donors contributed a total of US$27 million to the UNDP Trust Fund for UXO LAO operations.[96] A UNDP official said that bilateral funding since the commencement of the UXO clearance program is likely to double the total amount spent for UXO action.[97] This is in accordance with Landmine Monitor calculations, which indicate that mine action funding for Laos totaled more than $54 million from 1994-2003. The United States has been the largest single donor to UXO assistance in Laos, having contributed more than $24 million since its fiscal year 1996.

UXO Lao receives other contributions directly from donors, such as bilateral grants from Belgium to support UXO Lao programs in Champassak province. In total, UXO Lao reports receiving $3.66 million in 2003 from the Trust Fund and other sources.[98] In 2002, the UXO Lao program spent $2.7 million, which was significantly less than the $4.6 million budgeted for the year. This was primarily the result of a cash flow crisis in June 2002, when there were insufficient funds to pay national staff costs.

Additional funding for mine action in Laos in 2003 included direct funding to NGOs and other implementers for victim assistance, risk education, and other projects outside the purview of UXO Lao. Funding outside the Trust Fund mechanism and outside UXO Lao included €1 million (US$1,131,500) from the European Commission for Handicap International technical assistance in Savannakhet in 2002-2004,[99] A$1,370,748 (US$893,728) from Australia (AusAID) for education and victim assistance projects in 2003-04,[100] and funding from Germany to Gerbera’s clearance operations in Houaphan and Luang Prabang.

Under the National Strategic Plan, the Trust Fund (and other international aid) will be formally delinked from UXO Lao, and may be used to support all sectors of UXO assistance, including risk education and victim assistance.[101] The NSP expects an annual budget of $3.5 million for clearance through UXO Lao alone, plus $750,000 for nationally-executed risk education and $700,000 for national victim assistance programs annually through 2009. An additional $175,000, plus a one-time startup cost of $215,000 in 2004, is budgeted for the operations of the National Regulatory Authority.[102] The government is only able to contribute $50-60,000 directly, plus substantial in-kind and indirect support including offices, infrastructure and seconded government staff.[103]

The 2004 budget of $4.9 million is fully funded. In 2004, new contributions to the Trust Fund have been received from Luxembourg ($175,000) and Finland ($345,623), with additional pledges from Belgium ($135,000), Japan ($200,000) and the Netherlands ($437,500).[104] In June 2004, UNDP reported recent Trust Fund contributions from Australia (US$302,750), Canada (US$103,448), Italy ($161,464) and South Korea ($40,000).[105]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2003, there were at least 118 new UXO/mine casualties in Laos, including 33 people killed and 85 injured. UXO Lao reported 108 mine/UXO casualties (33 killed and 75 injured) from 59 incidents in nine provinces; 50 casualties were children and 27 were female. The largest number of incidents (25) and casualties (40) occurred in Xieng Khouang province.[106] However, the UXO Lao Savannakhet provincial office reports an additional ten people injured, which do not appear on the national list.[107] In 2003, the leading cause of incidents was building a fire over buried ordnance (34 percent). Other activities at the time of incidents were agricultural activities (26 percent), tampering with UXO (19 percent), playing (11 percent), and other or unknown (11 percent).[108]

Between 1999 and 2002, 426 UXO/landmine casualties (128 killed and 298 injured) were reported: 99 in 2002 (28 killed and 71 injured); 122 in 2001 (35 killed and 87 injured); 103 in 2000 (39 killed and 64 injured); 102 in 1999 (26 killed and 76 injured).[109] The percentage of incidents involving children continues to increase. In the period following the war, children accounted for approximately 20 percent of casualties; by the mid-1990s, this had risen to over 33 percent.[110] In 2003, children accounted for over 40 percent of casualties.

Reported casualties have risen sharply in 2004. From January-June 2004, UXO Lao reported 51 mine/UXO incidents in seven provinces, resulting in 117 casualties (41 killed and 76 injured).[111] UXO Lao’s national program director attributes the increase to the skyrocketing scrap metal trade.[112] Additional explanations include increasing population pressure, and, most basically, poverty.[113]

Mine/UXO casualty data is believed to be underreported in Laos as there is no comprehensive nationwide data collection mechanism. UXO Lao collects casualty information only in the provinces and districts where it works and as indicated, inconsistencies exist in this data between central and provincial UXO Lao offices. UXO Lao officials confirm that their statistics are unreliable, as they do not include remote areas or any part of the country outside UXO Lao operations.[114] In addition, there is no regular monitoring of provincial and district hospital records.[115] UXO Lao estimates that an accurate national casualty figure would be around 150 people per year.[116]

The National Strategic Plan gives priority to the development of a national database on mine/UXO incidents, covering all 18 provinces and updated regularly.[117] In June 2004, two consultants completed a feasibility study on developing this database, provisionally titled the “Lao UXO/Mine Victim Information System” (LUMVIS).[118]

The total number of landmine/UXO casualties in Lao PDR is not known. The 1997 Handicap International National Survey received reports of 11,928 UXO and landmine casualties from 1973 to 1996; of those, detailed interview data was recorded for 10,649 casualties (5,495 killed and 5,154 injured). Although the majority of incidents were caused by UXO, landmine casualties were recorded in every province and accounted for 11 percent of reported incidents.[119]

Survivor Assistance

In the past, both the Lao Government and international donors appear to have placed a lower priority on victim assistance than on clearance. However, victim assistance is now included in the new National Strategic Plan, and resources from the UNDP Trust Fund will be available for both physical rehabilitation and socio-economic integration. The plan states that the specific needs of survivors and their dependents “will be factored in all national [and] local public health initiatives.”[120] The UXO Lao chief technical advisor identifies victim assistance as one area with “much more room for cooperation between donors and implementors.”[121] Relations between UXO Lao and assistance providers are reportedly closer than they have been in the past.[122]

Health care facilities in Laos are limited. A poor communications infrastructure and lack of information on available services limits access to medical and rehabilitation facilities for UXO/landmine survivors who generally live in remote areas and, in particular, for survivors from ethnic minorities who do not speak Lao.[123] However, both the quality and reach of medical care available to survivors is reportedly improving. In 2000, around 39 percent of casualties died; in 2003, the death rate was 28 percent.[124] In Houaphanh and Xieng Khouang provinces, where Consortium’s War Victims Assistance Project is active, only 22 percent of casualties died as a result of their injuries. Consortium staff attribute part of this decline to improving medical facilities.[125] District and some sub-district health stations possess basic equipment for first aid and amputations. Casualties requiring more complex surgery, including severe burns and shrapnel wounds, are referred to provincial and national-level hospitals. As local capacity grows, fewer survivors are transferred to the central level. The Friendship Hospital in Vientiane treated less than ten new UXO/mine casualties in 2003.[126]

The primary obstacles to adequate care are accessibility and cost. Even travel to the district center can prove a major undertaking in remote areas of Laos. Transportation costs for emergencies can reach $100. Once a casualty arrives at the district or provincial hospital, the average cost of treatment for UXO injuries is around $150, half the annual income of a rural family.[127] According to Lao law, services should be provided free-of-charge for government employees, Buddhist clergy, and “needy persons,” but in practice few hospitals have funds to do this.[128]

The Consortium War Victims Assistance Project started in June 2000, and is supported by the US Leahy War Victims Fund and UNICEF. It provides medical training, medical equipment, a management system for revolving drug funds, and renovation of hospital emergency and surgical areas. Two private funds administered by Consortium can provide up to $2,000 in medical care and $2,000 in financial support, such as housing, animals and vocational training for survivors in Xieng Khouang, Houaphan, Savannakhet and Saravane provinces. The War Victims Medical Fund and Quality of Life Rehabilitation Fund assisted more than 60 survivors and their families in 2003. The War Victims Medical Fund, which pays for all medical and transportation costs incurred by people injured by UXO/landmines assisted 36 survivors in 2003; 54 were assisted in 2002 and 79 in 2001. The project has completed training and upgrading of facilities in five hospitals in Xieng Khouang and is now replicating this work in four hospitals in Houaphan province. Vientiane-based experts have trained 110 provincial and district health workers to work as local medical trainers. More than 400 medical, nursing and technical staff also received technical and management training.[129]

The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), a partnership between the Ministry of Health, POWER, World Vision Laos, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO), and the Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR), continues to provide support to the National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) and four provincial prosthetic and orthotic centers (PRCs): in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, Savannakhet and Champassak. Since 1997, COPE has supported activities including: refurbishment of all five centers; equipping all centers for polypropylene technology; training of prosthetic and orthotic technicians; and capacity building in the NRC and in the Lao Disabled People’s Association. In July 2003, a fifth international organization, the Singapore-based Leprosy Mission International-Southeast Asia, joined COPE. In 2003, the COPE-supported centers assisted 1,048 people, including between 400 and 500 UXO/landmine survivors, fitted 607 prostheses and repaired 153, and distributed 400 wheelchairs and 102 crutches; 688 people, including 284 survivors were assisted in 2002. COPE also provides return travel costs to the nearest provincial rehabilitation center, a daily food allowance, and medical costs directly related to the treatment. In February 2003, a cost recovery system was introduced: eight percent of treatment costs in the Vientiane facility were recovered by user fees in 2003. Since 2001, eleven Laotian technicians have graduated from the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (one in 2001, five in 2002, five in 2003); at least two have been assigned to each of the provincial rehabilitation centers. Three others are currently studying in Cambodia for ISPO Category II qualifications.[130]

In December 2000, AAR began a three-year wheelchair production project at the NCR. Following training in wheelchair production by AAR there are now six technicians and six persons with disabilities working on the project. In December 2001, the construction of a new wheelchair production workshop at the NCR was completed. The workshop produced 200 wheelchairs in 2002. The project was fully funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency until the end of 2003.[131]

Handicap International has conducted a physiotherapy support program in Laos since 1997. HI has supported the development of physiotherapy departments in three general hospitals and four provincial hospitals in Savannakhet and Khammouane provinces and Vientiane municipality, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. Within the project of technical assistance to UXO LAO operations in Savanakhet province, HI sometimes assists in the evacuation of casualties and facilitates treatment and rehabilitation. Services are provided free-of-charge with funding from the European Commission and HI-Luxembourg.[132] HI is also preparing in cooperation with the national Rehabilitation Center of Vientiane an extension of its Community Based Rehabilitation project to the province of Savannakhet. The project will target the three most affected and remote districts of the province.[133]

Several other international organizations also provide medical services. The Canadian NGO, Garneau International, has conducted village-based rehabilitation for 300 people with disabilities in 17 villages of Xieng Khouang; continuation of the project depends on funding.[134] World Concern supports a community-based rehabilitation program in Saravane province.[135]

A survey on the psychosocial effects of UXO/mine injuries on children, supported by HI and UNICEF, interviewed approximately 200 child survivors and 200 children of adult casualties. About 70 percent of injured children received hospital care; however, most now have long-term medical problems. Health and poverty are very closely linked as poor families cannot afford medicine and treatment, and a UXO/landmine casualty is frequently a major economic loss for the family. Memory loss, nightmares and learning problems are common among child survivors. Children whose parents are survivors are even more affected, as many leave school to earn money or take care of their parents, with no one to care for them in return.[136]

The NGO Lao Disabled People’s Association (LDPA) aims to be “a voice of people affected by UXO.”[137] LDPA’s objectives are to support persons with disabilities from all ethnic groups, protect their rights and interests, and promote access to education and employment.[138] The LDPA currently has 1,600 members in Vientiane and six provincial branches (Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, Sayaboury, Champassak, Sekong and Saravane). Income generation is reportedly the main concern of most LDPA members.[139] In Xieng Khouang province, 124 members are active in the association, which organizes small weaving and tailoring classes and links to the prosthetic services at the regional rehabilitation center.[140]

Three members of the LDPA, including the President, Singkham Takounphak, participated in the Raising the Voices training in Geneva in February 2003.

The Sikeud Vocational School for the Disabled, operated by the Thai congregation of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, opened in 2001 outside Vientiane. The first group of 64 students graduated from three-year courses in electronics, mechanics, tailoring, administration and English in January 2004; 165 students are currently enrolled in the school.[141]

Other Lao government-sponsored organizations concerned with disability include the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center and the Lao Association for Disabled Women and Children.[142]

Disability Policy and Practice

The Laotian Constitution provides for equal access of all citizens, including persons with disabilities, to education and employment. Laos is a signatory to the ESCAP Proclamation on Disabilities. Responsibility for providing services to persons with disabilities is divided between the Ministry of Health, which manages the national and provincial rehabilitation centers, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW), which oversees the National Commission for Disabled People (NCDP).[143] The NCDP has promulgated regulations to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.[144] A National Plan of Action for Disability is not yet complete.

Additional disability-specific policies include the 1996 Ministry of Public Health’s strategy on rehabilitation, including special education and vocational training, and the 2000 Strategic Plan on Rehabilitation and Development of Disabled Persons by the MLSW and NCDP, which sets 12 priority areas for action, beginning with coordination of planning at the national level.[145] In 2001 and 2002, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare held national workshops on victim assistance.[146]

[1] Statement by Phongsavath Boupha, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Bangkok, 17 September 2003.
[2] Interview with Somphanh Phengkhammy, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Vientiane, 6 February 2004.
[3] “Resolutions of the Lao PDR Government on National Strategic Plan for the UXO Programme in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic 2003-2013: The Safe Path Forward,” March 2004, p. 1. An earlier draft of the plan, cited in Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 629, contains a longer section on the Mine Ban Treaty that was shortened in the final version.
[4] Interview with Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vientiane, 9 February 2004.
[5] Email from Khampho Khaykhamphithoune, First Secretary, Laos Mission to the EU, 20 May 2003.
[6] Interview with Khampheng Duangthongla, UN Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vientiane, 12 August 2004.
[7] Statement to 47th UN General Assembly, December 1994.
[8] Interview with Phonesavanh Chantavilay, Chief of the UN Systems Division, Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vientiane, 1 February 2001. The Foreign Ministry sent a translation of the treaty in Laotian to the office of the Prime Minister and to the National Assembly as a part of the process.
[9] This precise phrase was used in statements by Amb. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Permanent Representative of the Lao PDR to the UN, New York, on 16 October 2001, and 11 October 2000.
[10] “Logistics Prevent Laos from Signing Mine Pact,” Bangkok Post, 30 June 1998.
[11] Email from Mine Action Team, DFAIT, 23 September 2004.
[12] Interview with Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister, 9 February 2004.
[13] Interview with Somphanh Phengkhammy, Minister of Labor, 6 February 2004.
[14] Interview with Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister, 9 February 2004. Approximately 10 percent of the land border with Cambodia and Thailand remains unmarked, with some land contested on the basis of French treaties dating back to 1903.
[15] Amnesty International, “Laos: Use of starvation as a weapon of war against civilians,” public statement, 2 October 2003, available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA260132003, accessed 12 October 2004..
[16] Email from Daniel Alberman, Laos Researcher, Amnesty International, 19 December 2003.
[17] Email from Daniel Alberman, Laos Researcher, Amnesty International, 9 March 2003.
[18] Andrew Perrin, “Welcome to the Jungle,” Time (Asia edition), vol. 161, no. 17, 5 May 2003.
[19] Email from Daniel Alberman, Laos Researcher, Amnesty International, 19 December 2003.
[20] Perrin and Blenkinsop’s trip to Laos was arranged by the Fact Finding Commission. See Terry Vau Dell, “Time magazine takes on Oroville trio’s quest,” MediaNews Group, 30 April 2003. Footage of Perrin and Blenkinsop’s visit, plus a series of still photos by Blenkinsop, appear on the Fact Finding Commission’s website at www.factfinding.org/page3.html, accessed 12 October 2004.
[21] “Hope Lost: The Aftermath,” video available at www.factfinding.org/Streaming/the_aftermath.htm, accessed 12 October 2004. Many observers in and outside of Laos question the objectivity and reliability of the FFC’s information.
[22] Interview with Somsavat Lengsavad, Deputy Prime Minister, 9 February 2004.
[23] Interviews with Susan Sutton, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Amb. Douglas Hartwick, US Embassy, Vientiane, 3-5 February 2004.
[24] Email from Susan Sutton, US Embassy, Vientiane, 15 January 2004.
[25] ICBL representatives visited Laos three times in the first half of 2003, including Hmong villages in Xieng Khouang province. They confirmed that there were old minefields, but did not see or hear about new use.
[26] UXO Lao, “UXO Lao Work Plan 2003,” April 2003, p. 6; see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 630.
[27] Nick Cumming-Bruce, “Meanwhile: Clearing the wreckage to secure the future,” IHT, 15 April 2003.
[28] UXO Lao, “Turning Point–UXO Lao Work Plan 2004,” February 2004, p. 6.
[29] Handicap International, “Living with UXO: Final Report, National Survey on the Socio-Economic Impact of UXO in Lao PDR,” 1997, p. 6; “National Strategic Plan: 2003-2013,” p. 6. The 1997 survey identified 10 heavily-impacted provinces; UXO Lao works in all of these except the Saysomboun Special Zone, which is ranked seventh in impact nationwide.
[30] HI, “Living with UXO,” 1997.
[31] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2004,” p. 13.
[32] Interview with Somphanh Phengkhammy, Minister of Labor, 6 February 2004.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Interview with Michael Hayes, Program Manager, MAG, Vientiane, 5 February 2004.
[35] Interview with Kingphet Phimmavong, Provincial Coordinator, UXO Lao, Phonsavan, 7 February 2004.
[36] The hilltops were ringed with a diamond pattern of booby-trapped 60mm mortars with an M-16 bounding fragmentation mine in the middle, and M-14 blast mines in between the mortars (five mines and four mortars per diamond). These were likely laid in the 1970s.
[37] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, National Program Director, UXO Lao, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[38] UXO Lao staff report seeing children as young as 10 operating “cheap but effective Vietnamese made metal detectors,” some of them with short handles and small heads “that seem to have been made with children in mind.” UXO Lao, “Overcoming the Past: UXO Lao Annual Report 2003,” p. 6.
[39] Interview with Tony West, Senior Technical Advisor, HI, Vientiane, 3 February 2004.
[40] “Resolutions of the Lao PDR Government on National Strategic Plan,” pp. 3, 6.
[41] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2004,” pp. 16, 21.
[42] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2003,” p. 16.
[43] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[44] UNDP and HI, “Feasibility study into national network for mines/UXO accidents in Lao PDR,” June 2004.
[45] Email from Luc Delneuville, Director, HI, Vientiane, 29 September 2004.
[46] Interview with Luc Delneuville, HI, Vientiane, 3 February 2004.
[47] Communication from Eric Gagnon, Chief Technical Advisor, UXO Lao, 12 August 2004.
[48] “National Strategic Plan: 2003-2013,” pp. 2-3, 5.
[49] The five international NGOs and clearance agencies that currently function as UXO Lao’s Implementing Partners (the Belgian Military, Gerbera, HI, MAG, and NPA) are free under the NSP to continue working in partnership with UXO Lao and/or to engage in their own independent projects. Other agencies are also free to enter the sector. Interview with Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[50] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[51] “National Strategic Plan: 2003-2013,” p. 4.
[52] Ibid, pp. 4-5.
[53] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004. For an account of the UXO Lao work planning process, see GICHD, Socio-Economic Approaches to Mine Action, May 2002, p. 20.
[54] Interview with Michael Hayes, MAG, 5 February 2004; Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 632.
[55] Data provided by Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004; “UXO – long term problem to be tackled,” Vientiane Times, 26 February 2003; email from Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, 5 April 2004.
[56] Data provided by Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004; UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2003,” p. 12.
[57] Statistics provided by Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 5 May 2004.
[58] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2004,” p. 16.
[59] Ibid, pp. 8, 13.
[60] UXO Lao has reported clearing 6.22 million square meters of land (and 90,000 UXO) in 1999, 7.42 million square meters (and 80,538 UXO) in 2000, 8.74 million square meters (and 82,724 UXO) in 2001, 8.4 million square meters (98,963 UXO) in 2002, and 8.8 million square meters (and 54,420 UXO) in 2003.
[61] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004. The provinces still not at full capacity as of February 2004 were Champassak, Khammuane and Houaphan.
[62] Ibid.
[63] Ibid.
[64] Panyasith Thammavongsa, “Dogs get to work on finding UXO,” Vientiane Times, October 2003.
[65] Email from Tim Carstairs, Director for Policy, MAG, 5 October 2004.
[66] Interview with Michael Hayes, MAG, 5 February 2004; UNESCO display, Plain of Jars Site 1, Phonsavan.
[67] “UXO Action of HIB in Lao PDR,” document provided to Landmine Monitor, February 2004.
[68] Email from Luc Delneuville, HI, 29 September 2004.
[69] Interview with Siegfried Block, Project Manager, Gerbera, Vientiane, 5 February 2004.
[70] Interview with Pascal Rigaldies, Finance Advisor, NPA, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[71] Email from Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, 5 April 2004.
[72] “Milsearch-BPKP EOD Joint Venture Limited.”
[73] Interview with Paul McGuiness, Manager, Milsearch-BPKP, Vientiane, 11 February 2004. See also Australia country report in this Landmine Monitor Report. Unlike UXO Lao, Milsearch offers full liability insurance for its clearance, however it works on the basis of “pragmatic safety” rather than UN standards. Milsearch claims to have had no accidents in 15 years of work in at least 8 other countries.
[74] Email from Paul McGuiness, Milsearch, 2 July 2003.
[75] Interview with Jim Nugent, Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Vientiane, 11 February 2004.
[76] Interview with Siegfried Block, Gerbera, 5 February 2004.
[77] Interviews with Lao and foreign officials and demining experts, Vientiane, February 2004.
[78] Interview with Paul McGuiness, Milsearch, 11 February 2004.
[79] Data from Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004; UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2003,” p. 12.
[80] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2004,” p. 16.
[81] Statistics provided by Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, May 2004.
[82] Interview with Kingphet Phimmavong, UXO Lao, 7 February 2004.
[83] Interview with Tony West, HI, 3 February 2004.
[84] Email from Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, 5 April 2004.
[85] “National Strategic Plan: 2003-2013,” pp. 2, 5, 7.
[86] Interview with Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[87] Interview with Michael Peyra, Director, Consortium, Vientiane, 3 February 2004.
[88] Interview and materials provided by Khamsay Iemsouthi, Assistant Project Officer, UNICEF, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[89] UNMAS, “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects 2004,” p. 242.
[90] Unless otherwise noted, information comes from the individual country reports in this edition of Landmine Monitor Report. In some cases, the funding was for the country’s fiscal year, not calendar year 2003. Landmine Monitor has converted the currencies and rounded off numbers.
[91] The EC had initially reported the figure for mine risk education and victim assistance. The funding for clearance was reported to Landmine Monitor in: “2003 European Community Mine Action,” updated Excel Table provided by Catherine Horeftari, DG Relex, European Commission, 21 September 2004.
[92] Email from Susan Sutton, US Embassy, 16 February 2004; email from Wenche Brenden, NPA, 14 September 2004. The US State Department has reported this as a $1.2 million contribution. Email from John Stevens, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State, 23 September 2004.
[93] UXO Lao, “Annual Report 2003,” p. 49; email from Susan Sutton, US Embassy, 16 February 2004.
[94] UXO Lao, “Annual Report 2003,” p. 49. In 2002, the UNDP Trust Fund received $4.36 million.
[95] Ibid. UXO Lao reports that $195,238 of Denmark’s contribution went to MAG.
[96] Ibid.
[97] Interview with Justin Shone, UNDP Trust Fund, 14 March 2003. The “Executive Summary” of Landmine Monitor Report 2003 (p. 58) estimates $50 million for mine action from 1994 to 2002.
[98] UXO Lao, “Annual Report 2003,” p. 49.
[99] This grant extends from September 2002 to August 2004. Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 631. Exchange rate: €1 = US$1.1315. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (annual),” 5 January 2004.
[100] Email from Penny Joyce, Vietnam and Laos Section, AusAID, 19 March 2004. Exchange rate: A$1=US0.652. US Federal Reserve, 5 January 2004.
[101] “National Strategic Plan: 2003-2013,” p. 3.
[102] Ibid, p. 8.
[103] Interview with Somphanh Phengkhammy, Minister of Labor, 6 February 2004.
[104] UXO Lao, “Work Plan 2004,” p. 44.
[105] “Updates from UNDP,” in Mine Action Support Group, Newsletter, June 2004.
[106] Statistics provided by UXO Lao, 8 January 2004.
[107] Statistics provided during the feasibility study by HI, 30 January 2004. Xieng Khouang is the only province with two functioning UXO Lao community awareness teams, and its data collection capacity was not greatly affected by the 2002 financial crisis. Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[108] UXO Lao casualty database, provided by Bounpheng Sisavath, Chief of Public Information Unit, UXO Lao, Vientiane,10 February 2004.
[109] Landmine Monitor Report 2003, pp. 634-635; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 696-697; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 554-555; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 510.
[110] Handicap International, “Living with UXO,” 1997, p. 26.
[111] Statistics provided by Bounpheng Sisawath, Chief of Public Information Unit, UXO Lao, 2 August 2004.
[112] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 13 August 2004.
[113] “Unexploded munitions claim growing number of lives in Laos: UN,” Agence France-Presse (Hanoi), 7 July 2004.
[114] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[115] Interview with Tony West, HI, 16 March 2003.
[116] Interview with Bounpone Sayasenh, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004; UNMAS, “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects 2004,” p. 243.
[117] “National Strategic Plan: 2003–2013,” p. 2.
[118] UNDP and HI, “Feasibility study,” June 2004.
[119] Handicap International, “Living with UXO,” 1997, p. 24-25.
[120] “National Strategic Plan: 2003–2013,” p. 2.
[121] Interview with Eric Gagnon, UXO Lao, 10 February 2004.
[122] Interview with Michael Boddington, Chief Executive, COPE, Vientiane, 2 February 2004.
[123] See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 635.
[124] The 2003 figure includes the ten additional injuries in the Xieng Khouang provincial report.
[125] Interview with Barbara Lewis, Team Leader, Consortium War Victims Assistance Project, Phonsavan, 7 February 2004.
[126] Interview with Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit, Director, Friendship Hospital, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[127] Interview with Barbara Lewis, Consortium, 7 February 2004.
[128] Interview with Michael Boddington, COPE, 2 February 2004.
[129] Interview with Barbara Lewis, Consortium, 7 February 2004; “Brief Outline of Consortium Projects: The War Victims Assistance Project,” brochure provided 3 February 2004; USAID, “Patrick J Leahy War Victims Fund: 2004 Portfolio Synopsis,” p. 44; Consortium response to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 14 April 2003; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 697.
[130] Interview with Michael Boddington, COPE, 2 February 2004; “Students trained to help disabled people.” Vientiane Times, 20 January 2004; email from Michael Boddington, COPE, 1 April 2004; Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 636.
[131] Interview with Mariko Harada, Vice-Representative, AAR, Vientiane, 13 March 2003.
[132] Information provided by Luc Delneuville, HI, 23 February 2004; HI response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 14 March 2003.
[133] Information provided by David Boisson, Vietnam Representative, HI, 20 February 2004.
[134] Interview with Barbara Lewis, Consortium, 7 February 2004; Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 698.
[135] Lao Disabled People’s Association, “Victim Assistance in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic,” 2003, p. 7.
[136] Interview with Didier Bertrand, Research Coordinator, HI, Vientiane, 10 February 2004.
[137] Interview with Singkham Takounphak, President, Lao Disabled People’s Association, Vientiane, 4 February 2004; see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 637.
[138] Lao Disabled People’s Association, Provisional Bylaws (2001), pp. 2, 5.
[139] Interview with Singkham Takounphak, Lao DPA, 4 February 2004; email from Michael Boddington, COPE, 1 April 2004.
[140] Interviews with Maikham Sivongsa, Director of Labor and Social Welfare, Xieng Khouang, and Sengouthon Tammavong, Vice-Director, Xieng Khouang Association of Disabled Persons, 9 February 2004.
[141] HI, State of the World’s Disabled People 2000-01, p. 76; Souknilundon Southivongnorath, “Disabled students take place in the workforce,” Vientiane Times, 2 February 2004.
[142] Lao Disabled People’s Association, “Victim Assistance,” 2003, p. 8.
[143] Ibid, p. 2.
[144] HI, State of the World’s Disabled People 2000-01, p. 75; US State Department, Laos Human Rights Report 2003, available at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27777.htm, accessed 12 October 2004.
[145] Xoukiet Panyanouvong, Secretary General, LDPA, presentation at the Regional Workshop on a Disability Convention, Bangkok, October 2003. See www.worldenable.net/bangkok2003a/paperlao.htm, accessed 12 October 2004.
[146] See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 637; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 699.