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The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Laos and the United States Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement are continuing their history of successful partnership in Xieng Khuang and Khammuan provinces with a new 12 month unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance project worth US$1.4 million.
Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun ( left ) and Mr David Horrocks shake hands after signing the MOU.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) and MAG Laos was signed yesterday in Vientiane.
NRA Director Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun and MAG Country Director Mr David Horrocks jointly signed the document witnessed by US Ambassador to Laos Ms Karen Stewart and officials from the two provinces and MAG.
The project will be carried out in Phaxay, Khoun, Thathom and Nonghaet districts of Xieng Khuang province, as well as Ghommalath, Mahaxay and Bualapha districts of Khammuan province, focusing on conducting a survey for prioritisation of UXO clearance to support socio-economic development activities.
The project has built upon the success of previous projects funded by the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. Partnerships with numerous development organisations will enable MAG Laos to ensure that these clearance outputs become development outcomes.
MAG is a British non-government organisation which started operations in Laos in 1994. MAG operations in Laos are highly recognised by the Lao government.
“Since the beginning of its operations in the country, MAG Laos has been working hard to liaise with donors for funding to support its UXO clearance activities which benefit local communities, reduce injuries and deaths from dangerous UXO. In the same way UXO clearance enables local communities to access more safe land,” said Mr Phoukieo at the signing ceremony.
Since 1996, funding from the US government to support UXO clearance in Laos has reached US$30 million.
Mr Phoukhieo, represen-ting the NRA and the Lao government, expressed gratitude and thanks to the US government for its support of socio-economic development in Laos.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Mr Horrocks said extensive UXO spread across a wide swathe of the country not only poses a risk to people carrying out normal activities such as farming, but also prevents or delays development activities and indeed adds to their cost.
Through the work of five UXO clearance teams, significant amounts of contaminated land will be cleared of UXO, he said, adding that, ultimately, the project will contribute to the Lao government’s poverty eradication strategy and Millennium Development Goal No. 9.
Ms Stewart expressed her hope that the MOU would help to ensure the continuation of vital clearance work and activities that will allow Lao children to attend school in a safe environment, return land to communities for agriculture and other economic development, and allow construction of infrastructure such as better road access to healthcare facilities.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update October 28, 2011)