The Chair of the Mine Action and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Sector Working Group is the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare/the Chairman of the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR. The United Nations Development Programme’s Resident Representative and the Ambassador of the United States of America are Co-Chairs.
The number of UXO victims fell from 302 in 2008 to 59 in 2016.
The overall decline is due to the survey, clearance and risk education efforts of all involved in the UXO sector. Yet Lao PDR still has too many casualties through UXO.
The UXO sector has seen significant, positive change in recent years where all humanitarian operators now use the evidence-based survey approach, which increases the amount of UXO found more than three folds per hectare of land, and allows more UXO to be cleared faster. The area of confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) developed every year creates an additional five years’ worth of clearance work in the current capacity. In this way, it is crucial for the sector to build its clearance capacity and also to focus on prioritization of areas.
The sector has made significant progress towards a full, national survey of contamination, which is a key requirement under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan includes a target for the completion of survey by 2020.
The National Regulatory Authority on UXO developed a Five-Year Work Plan from 2016 to 2020 based on the national strategy plan for UXO Sector in Lao PDR “the Safe Path Forward II”, the focus being on clearing contaminated district sub-areas that have been identified as Development Focal Areas by the Government. At the same time, the NRA will also work to ensure operators continue to address, on a rapid-response basis, all situations of high risk nationwide.
The NRA is developing a prioritization plan to ensure that survey and clearance are done in the areas where it is most needed. Moreover, a plan is being developed to ensure that all data is correctly managed in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database which all operators are required to report to.
Priorities for 2017 onwards include:
During the 2016 ASEAN Summit which was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR launched their national Sustainable Development Goal 18: Lives safe from UXO Lao to emphasize the national commitment to the UXO issue. This goal ensures that by 2030, there will be an elimination of UXO casualties to the extent possible, clearance of UXO from prioritized areas, and health treatment and livelihood support to UXO survivors.
The Mine Action and UXO Sector Working Group includes three Sub-Sector Working Groups: