VIENTIANE, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Laos has been granted more than 38 billion kip (4.5 million U.S. dollars) in funding from the British government for its unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance operations in Laos.
With the grant, MAG will conduct UXO clearance for 13 months in Xieng Khuang province in northern Laos, along with UXO clearance, a non-technical survey and mine risk education in central Laos' Khammuan province.
The Britian-based MAG assists people affected by landmines, UXO and small arms and light weapons.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Monday between the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action sector in Laos (NRA) and MAG Laos, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.
Signing the agreement were Lao Director General of NRA Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune and Country Director of MAG Laos Blossum Gilmour.
"UXO-impacted families are amongst the poorest members of Lao society, living at subsistence level in remote rural communities with limited access to basic services," Gilmour mentioned.
In 2017, over 3,800 hectares of land were cleared across the country, according to the NRA, a Lao official institution dealing with UXO issues.
A total of 108,586 UXO items were removed, including 84,977 cluster munitions on 3,882 hectares of land in 2017.
According to statistics from Lao authorities, from 1965 to 1973, the United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordinance on Laos during the Vietnam War, including 2.7 million cluster bombs which are designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode.
The NRA said from 2008 to 2017 some 920 people were injured or killed in almost 600 UXO-related accidents with the number of fatalities recorded at 244.