VIENTIANE, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Laos has cleared more than 500,000 square meters of land in two villages of Yommalath district, Khammuan province, with over 800 bombies and items destroyed.
According to local daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday, the latest project results were reported at the Conclusion Meeting on Progress Made in UXO Clearance in Support of Community Development in Yommalath district, Khammuan province, some 250 km southeast of Lao capital Vientiane.
The meeting was attended by the Deputy Governor of Khammuan province Keo-oudone Boutsingkhone, Country Director of MAG Laos Simon Rea, and officials.
The project ran for 12 months from September 2019 to August 2020. MAG conducted surveys and UXO clearance in five villages of Khammuan province, said the report.
Some 6,903,542 square meters of land were surveyed and 576,632 square meters in Hangkan and Xiengdao villages were cleared of UXO. A total of 871 UXO items including 784 bombies were destroyed.
The project completed 90 percent of the plan before being stopped by the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, it has been extended for six months from September 2020 to February 2021.
In 2019, the United Methodist Committee on Relief provided 500,000 U.S. dollars for MAG's UXO operations in Khammuan province, with 12 months of project implementation.
A Memorandum of Understanding on the project was signed in Lao capital Vientiane between the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for UXO/Mine Action Sector and MAG Laos.
UXO clearance aims to free up land for activities that will enhance the well-being and livelihoods of impoverished rural communities.
Unexploded ordnance is an obstacle to economic and social development, contaminating land that could otherwise be used for agriculture, industry, tourism and the construction of infrastructure. Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita.
Throughout the Second Indochina War (1964-1973), over two million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos, of which 30 percent failed to explode. Over 270 million cluster munitions were dropped from American aircraft, leaving an estimated 80 million live bomblets (bombies) scattered and buried around the country.