By Alison De Luise, Food Security Policy Manager, AusAID
Today is International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, a day when everyone is encouraged to think about the difficulties faced by those affected by mines and other unexploded remnants of war. Australia’s support for mine action.
I never knew that Laos was one of the most bombed countries in the world. Nestled alongside Vietnam, much of the south is situated on or around the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail, the 1970s network of Vietcong supply trails. Laos suffered nine years of continuous bombing during the Vietnam War. It is estimated that more than two million tons of ordnance were let loose.
Visiting the Southern province of Sekong, nearly 40 years on, the countryside is still marked with bomb craters, giving some insight into the destruction that was inflicted upon the rural populations of Laos. It is difficult to fathom the destruction caused to local rural populations caught in the middle of the conflict, many of whom had few options for relocation. Unexploded bombs buried just beneath the soil threaten the lives of Laos people growing crops and earning income for their families. Up to 30 per cent of all bombs dropped are estimated not to have exploded, remaining active to this day. Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) continues to kill and maim men, women and children.