VIENTIANE, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The widespread presence of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in many rural areas is seen as a major obstacle to national economic and social development, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
According to the report, many Lao people still live under threat of the UXO as they struggle to expand agriculture productively, such as in the northern province of Huaphan, some 310 km northeast of Lao capital Vientiane.
The Lao government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Laos recommit to continuing to support the National Regulatory Authority on Unexploded Ordnance (NRA) to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 18 on removing UXO as an obstacle to development during the current period of 2017-2021.
In this regard, UXO-contaminated lands proximate to agricultural production areas in provinces like Huaphan have been designated for clearance to increase access and benefits to local people, the report quoted a meeting held in Vientiane.
The National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the UXO/Mine Action sector plans to continue to remove and destroy UXO while also providing education to affected communities about the risks involved in living with UXO.
In 2017, a total of 21,614 hectares were identified as Confirmed Hazardous Areas via a technical survey, according to the NRA.
Some 3,883 hectares of land were cleared, according to the authority.
According to statistics from Lao authorities, from 1965 to 1973, the United States dropped some two million tons of ordinance on Laos during the Vietnam War. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode, and 87,000 square kilometers of land in Laos are thought to be contaminated with UXOs.