During the Vietnam War, the small Southeast Asian country of Laos gained the deadly accolade of becoming the most bombed country per capita on the planet. 30% of those bombs didn’t explode, and today the problem of UXO is still a major issue in Laos, with 25% of the country’s villages still contaminated by live munitions.
On BBC2’s World’s Most Dangerous Roads, which aired on Sunday night, Sue Perkins and Liza Tarbuck drove a section of the heavily bombed Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. The programme highlighted the issue and this week alot of people have been asking how they can help.
Here’s a few suggestions…
UXO clearance in Laos is woefully underfunded, with the USA donating a paltry $9m a year to the cause. After Hillary Clinton’s visit last week, they have pledged an extra $10m. But far more is needed. You can help by donating to one of the excellent NGO working in UXO clearance in Laos.
Map of Laos showing UXO contaminated areas in red
COPE, founded in 1997, make prosthetics and orthotics for people injured by UXO in Laos. They have an excellent visitor centre in Vientiane, with lots of information about the bombings, displays of homemade fake limbs and films about UXO clearance. It’s one of the places Hillary visited last week.
You can help COPE by buying a leg for someone effected by UXO here.
UXO Lao is the UXO clearance programme of the Lao government. They have clearance teams working all over the effected area. It employs over 1000 people, many of them women, and needs $6.5 m a year to operate.
To donate to UXO Laos please click here.
MAG International are one of the biggest UXO and mine clerance NGOs in the world, and are doing fantastic work in Laos. In the six months between September 2011 and March 2012 they cleared over 10,000 items of UXO in 58 villages.
To donate to MAG please click here. This page also details how your money is used.
Handicap International are a Belgian UXO who are largely funded by the EU. Like MAG, they work in UXO and mine clearance all over the world, and have an office and UXO clearance teams working in Laos. Handicap are also active in mine risk education.
To give Handicap a few of the Queen’s gold coins press your digit here.