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US provides Laos $90 million funds to help it clear unexploded ordnance

The United States (US) announced on Tuesday it would provide an additional $90 million over the next three years to help Laos clear unexploded ordnance, which have killed or injured more than 20,000 people since war in the 1970s.

The figure announced during President Barack Obama’s first visit to Laos is close to the $100 million the US has spent in the past 20 years on clearing its UXO in Laos. Laos was peppered with cluster munitions by US warplanes between 1964 to 1973 and a third of the more than 270 million bombs dropped on the communist country did not explode, according to the Lao National Regulatory Authority for UXO.

The White House said in a statement US programmes in Laos had helped slash UXO casualties from 300 to less than 50 a year and the additional funding would be for a “comprehensive UXO survey of Laos and for continued clearing operations”. The package would help support UXO victims needing rehabilitation services, including orthotics and prosthetics, it said.

UXO remains a stubborn problem in the Indochina region and experts say it could take decades to clear landmines and bombs in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which were beset by conflicts in the 1960s and 1970s, and in Cambodia’s case, the 1980s and 1990s too.

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