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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    14 June 2012

NZ helps Laos to clear unexploded bombs

13-June 2012

The government of New Zealand has provided Laos US$1.89 million to tackle unexploded ordnance (UXO) problems in the country's second most contaminated province, Xieng Khuang.

The funds will be channelled through the UXO Trust Fund which is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

UNDP Resident Re-presentative Minh Pham and First Secretary at the Embassy of New Zealand to Laos Philip Hewitt signed an agreement on the funding yesterday.

The contribution will support UXO Lao's clearance operations, roving tasks, surveys, quality assurance and control as well as risk education and training.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Laoly Faiphengyoua along with other senior officials witnessed the signing ceremony.

New Zealand has been an active partner to UNDP-supported UXO activities in Laos. It has contributed more than $2 million since the UXO Lao programme was initiated in 1996.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Hewitt said the government of New Zealand strongly supports the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and is pleased to work with the Lao government to achieve their UXO clearance objectives.

“This additional $1.89 million represents New Zealand's commitment to further strengthen national capacity for UXO clearance, which is among the Lao government's highest development priorities.”

Hewitt said the assistance will enable Laos to expand UXO clearance activities which will allow the government to achieve its socio-economic development goals. Minh Pham said the contribution will play a significant role in accelerating efforts to make land safe in Xieng Khuang province.

“Clearing land in the country's second most contaminated province is critical for communities who rely on the land for their livelihoods,” Pham said.

He stressed that UXO clearance cannot be undertaken solely by the Lao government and undoubtedly requires cooperation from the international community.

The UXO Trust Fund was established in 2010 to increase government ownership and improve coordination and effective prioritisation of work in the UXO sector.

It also enables the government to fulfill its obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and ensures that UXO activities are coordinated with the government's national development priorities as outlined in the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2011-15.


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