In Laos, Humanity & Inclusion continues its interventions to eliminate the threat and reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic risk that the explosive remnants of war still pose to the country's populations today. Nearly 45 years after the end of the Vietnam War and the American bombings, Laos remains the most contaminated country in the world by unexploded war explosives. Buried in forests and cultivated fields, they constitute both a direct threat to the population, mainly rural, and an obstacle to the development.
Eliminating the threat of weapons
Since 2006, Humanity & Inclusion’s demining teams have cleared more than 43 million sq. ft. of land and destroyed nearly 30,000 explosive remnants of war—that’s 30,000 lives potentially saved. Our main objective is to secure areas of human activity, such as villages and agricultural land and keep people safe.
Saving lives and making the village safe
In Houaphan province, where our teams have been working since early 2018, thousands of square feet of land still need to be cleared to eliminate the threat. HI has identified 379 villages contaminated with unexploded explosive remnants of war. This includes aviation bombs and cluster bombs, commonly referred to as "bombies" on site. Teams also find many other types of explosive remnants such as grenades, mortars, rockets, missiles, and even landmines. Each of these devices requires a different technique for detection and destruction. And, unusual in Laos which is almost unpolluted by these weapons, the team has also identified 26 minefields that directly affect 12 villages in Houameung district. Such demining operations require a completely different technique, which is even more meticulous because it involves advancing inch-by-inch, and dangerous because landmines explode at the slightest pressure.
In 2019, during the first 10 months of the year, Humanity & Inclusion teams of 73 deminers found and destroyed nearly 2,000 explosive remnants of war and cleared 32 acres of agricultural land.
In addition to our clearance work and protecting Laotians from the risk of these weapons, we also provide livelihood support activities so that people with disabilities have the opportunity to work meaningful, waged jobs. Initially conducted in Savannakhet province, HI teams are now continuing their activities in Houaphan, a mountainous province in the north of the country.