This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Unexploded ordnance harming development of Laos: UN official

VIENTIANE, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Unexploded ordnance (UXO) has caused great harm to the development of Laos, highlighting the need for its accelerated clearance, the Lao newspaper Vientiane Times reported Monday citing a top United Nations (UN) official.

The UN Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja made the remarks during her visit to Laos last week aimed at strengthening the UNDP's support for development priorities of the Southeast Asian country, according to the report.

"UXO has harmed the country too much for too long and that needs to change," she told reporters in Lao capital Vientiane. "I have visited Laos a couple of times before and looked at this issue, and by now the country should have advanced much faster in clearing unexploded ordnance. It is slow and needs to accelerate."

Wignaraja said the UNDP is pleased to be part of this effort and is committed to helping Laos accelerate UXO clearance efforts.

She noted that unexploded devices have been present in Laos for more than 40 years.

According to the UNDP, Laos is, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in the world, while according to statistics from Lao authorities, from 1965 to 1973, the United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordnance on Laos during the Vietnam War, including 2.7 million cluster bombs which were designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode.

More than 40 years after the end of the war, unexploded ordnance remains a major humanitarian and socio-economic challenge to the country, causing deaths and injuries, limiting access to potentially productive land, and adding substantial costs to the process of development, the Vientiane Times report said.

During the 2008-2022 period, 1,091 people were victims of 673 UXO accidents, of whom 808 were injured and 283 died, showed data from the National Regulatory Authority Office for UXO/Mine Action in Laos.