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The Laos UXO Crisis

COPE Laos                                                                                    Lao – The UXO Problem
Ban Cluster Bombs                                                             More Help Promised By USA

About half a century has passed since the Vietnam War, and the gentle people of Laos are still dying and being dismembered from the remnants of a conflict they were neutral and innocent in. North Vietnam’s war supplies were supplied by China via the Ho Chi Minh Trail which coursed mostly through Laos. To shut off this supply trail, the Ho Chi Minh Trail was carpet-bombed with cluster bombs. Unfortunately, approximately 30% of cluster bombs didn’t detonate, and to this day, they lay hiding in the countryside fields and forests, waiting to innocently harm the People of Lao.

This is one of the most difficult problems that the People of Lao still face. As an agrarian culture and economy, the Laos must continually find new fields to work. But farmers and schoolchildren alike are losing limbs and lives in the process.

We haven’t yet fully formulated how we’re going to help this cause. We just know it matters very much to us. What we do know is that the solution is three-fold:

1. Rehabilitating the victims of detonations                           COPE_Clinic_Prosthetic arms
2. Clearing fields and forests to prevent future tragedies
3. Raising awareness of how to avoid and mitigate interactions with explosives.

The Cope Project serves to rehabilitate survivors of landmine and cluster bomb explosions by providing prosthetics to those that have lost limbs. This is undoubtedly our best avenue of helping to rehabilitate victims. But much more needs to be done in funding projects to clear the landscape of hidden explosives, and also raise awareness of how to behave in precarious interactions, such as teaching schoolchildren to not play with these explosives.

The US Department of State and many other organizations currently fund some of these projects. The funding is minimal, however, and lives and limbs are being lost in the meanwhile. We will work to coordinate a more effective fundraising to these needs of the Lao People.  If you can offer assistance, whether financially or through ideas and solutions, please reach out and work with us.

-Sam Payrovi