From the KPL Lao News Agency: In spite of tragedy at home, Japan continues to support UXO removal in Laos.

March 9, 2011

Just two weeks after experiencing tragedy at home, the government of japan reaffirmed its intent to continue supporting UXO removal in Laos.

KPL Laos News Agency

Government of Japan has agreed to provide a grant total US$744,680 in support of UXO Lao operations in southern provinces of Saravane and Sekong, for 2011.

The grant contract was signed in Vientiane Capital, on 25 March between the Director of Lao National UXO, Mr. Bounpone Sayasenh and Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR, Ms. Junko Yokota.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs. Onchanh Thammavong, UNDP resident representative a.i Ms. Kyoko Yokosuka and representatives from Lao Government.

Japan is one of the largest donors to the UXO Lao. The Japanese Government has provided more than US$8.7 million to the UXO Lao from 2006, supporting operation in Saravane, Sekong, Attapeu and Xiengkhouang provinces.

Since 1996, the UXO Lao has cleared more than 19,185 hectares of land, including 16,054 hectares of agricultural land with more than US$3.3 million beneficiaries. It has also visited 8,494 villages, conducting community awareness activities on the dangers of UXO to more than 2,153,000 villagers. In the process of conducting operation, it has destroyed more than 973,274 items of UXO, of which 46 per cent are sub munitions from cluster bombs.

The UXO Lao currently receives support from donor countries including Australia, Germany, European Commission, Japan, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America. It also received support from private foundations of World Without Mines (WWM) and Intrepid Foundation.

Mme Onchanh expressed thanks the Japanese Government and people for providing financial support of UXOs clearance and human saving over the past five years.

The problem of UXOs pose a threat for Lao people and more than 300 Lao people per year fall the UXO victims. The UXOs is also a barrier for agriculture production and socio-economic development.
“This grant is a great contribution to the reduction poverty programme,” she added.

Ambassador of Japan to Lao PDR Ms. Junko Yokota expected that, “today’s grant assistance will enable the UXO Lao to continue to implement their activities such as UXO clearance, survey tasks and capacity building of their staff in Saravane and Sekong provinces”.

“It will contribute not only to reducing the number of human casualties but also increasing the amount of the land available for agricultural production and other socio-economic activities in the two provinces,” she said.

“As you know, the first meeting of state parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was held in Vientiane last year. I hope that our grant assistance this time will contribute to the effort of Lao Government in meeting the legal obligations under the Convention, leading to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals until 2015,” she added.

“Although Japan is now facing the unprecedented difficulty caused by the earthquake and tsunami, the government and people of Japan are united to overcome the hard time. On behalf people of Japan, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere gratitude to the government and people of Lao PDR and people of all other nation for their heartfelt inquiries and sympathies which have been a great consolation and encouragement to not only the families of victims but also the entire society of Japan”, she added.

Source: KPL Lao News Agency

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