Children killed & maimed by UXO in Luang Prabang
New U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR - 7/26/2013
Yesterday morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific held a confirmation hearing for Mr. Daniel Clune, the nominee to be Ambassador to Laos, and Mr. Joseph Yun, the nominee to be Ambassador to Malaysia.
Mr. Daniel Clune, a career diplomat in the United States Foreign Service, said that he would have five priorities as Ambassador.
First, he would seek to resolve issues arising from the Vietnam War, namely accounting for 309 persons missing in action and removing unexploded ordinances, which annually kill 56 persons.
Second, Mr. Clune would seek to promote human rights and reform of the Laotian legal systems. Mr. Clune expressed his concern over the disappearance of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone from a police station in the capital in 2012 and the recent forced return of nine young orphan North Korean asylum seekers to North Korea.
Third, Mr. Clune would continue US-Lao cooperation on counter-narcotics, the environment, and healthcare. In particular, he would like to encourage US-Lao cooperation on damn building projects along the Mekong river, a source of livelihood for nearly 70 million people, so they do not negatively impact local populations, wildlife, or natural habitats.
Fourth, he would focus on increasing people-to-people connections in Laos. 70% of the Laotian population is under 30 years old, and Mr. Clune would seek to build ties with students, young professionals, and government officials.
Finally, Mr. Clune would prioritize developing economic ties between the United States and Laos. Currently, only 1% of Laos’ foreign trade is with the United States. Additionally, Mr. Clune would continue economic engagement with the Laotian government. Last year, the United States helped Laos join the World Trade Organization and it is currently assisting the Laotian government meet its WTO obligations.
Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under An Air War has just been republished and, as historian Alfred McCoy notes in the foreword, “today the significance of its message has, if anything, increased.” Voices is unique because the book was written by the victims of U.S. Executive Secret war themselves,
“The most appalling episode of lawless cruelty in American history (is) the bombing of Laos. . . . The human results … are described without rancor—almost unbearably so—in a small book that will go down as a classic. It is “Voices From the Plain of Jars,” … in which the villagers of Laos themselves describe what the bombers did to their civilization.” - New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis.
Share the book “Voices from the Plain of Jars”
international peace activist, dies at 68
Roger Arnold – Roger Rumpf, a peace activist who spent years in Laos and drew international attention to the problem of unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War era, died April 9. He was 68.
By Emily Langer, Published: May 11
Vientiane Times – 7 MAY 2013
UXO CLEARANCE VEHICLE TO BE MODIFIED FOR WORK IN LAOS
A specialised Japanese-made Komatsu Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) clearance vehicle under trial in Xieng Khuang province will be taken back to Japan for modifications to improve its efficiency in the Three Japanese technicians from the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) working for the pilot programme reported to the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) on Thursday.
The UXO clearance vehicle will return to start a new pilot programme in Xieng Khuang province from September to December this year after the modifications have been made, NRA’s public relations officer Mr. Bounpheng Sisawath told Vientiane Times on Friday. The vehicle was successfully tested from January to April this year on fake bombs in Nahoy village, Paek district. Technicians then tested the vehicle in a field 100m wide and 100m long containing live “Technicians in Japan need to improve the part of the machine that removes the bombies because it was unable to destroy all of the real cluster bombs it encountered during testing,” Mr Bounpheng said.
The NRA has said it will not lay off people presently working on UXO clearance if the vehicle is By 2020 the government aims to clear UXO from 200,000 hectares of land, removing ordnance from The vehicle provided by JMAS takes one hour to clear one hectare of all cluster bombs, the pilot The Lao National UXO Programme (UXO Lao) employs 22 people to clear one hectare each month, meaning only 5,000 hectares of land can be cleared each year. So far, almost 30,000 hectares of UXO-contaminated land have been cleared since 1996. According to the NRA, the vehicle will be used to remove UXO from open spaces, while trained teams of personnel will carry out the work in villages and places the vehicle cannot access, such as hillsides.
Xieng Khuang province is the second most UXO-contaminated province in Laos after Savannakhet, with most of the ordnance being cluster sub-munitions. Savannakhet and other UXO-affected provinces in southern Laos are mostly contaminated by larger Xieng Khuang is more heavily impacted by bombies than any other province, with surveys revealing there are 90 to 100 unexploded sub-munitions per hectare of rice field. JMAS began unexploded ordnance clearance in the province in 2006.
The organisation implements its activities in cooperation with the government’s UXO Lao programme, helping local people to enjoy a safe and peaceful life in a developing environment.