Laos: What Would You Do If UXO Accident Happens in Your Village?

In Laos, U.S. Forces dropped as many as two million tons of bombs during both the Vietnam War and the civil war in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Reportedly, approximately 30% of them have remained in Laos as unexploded ordnance (UXOs) that continue to cause accidents and deaths even today. Xieng Khuang Province located in the north of the country in particular is an accident-prone area. According to statistics from National regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR, in 2012, 31 persons are injured in this province alone, accounting for 55% of all the victims in Laos.
Below is a report from Noriko ANDO, who has been engaged in operations in Xieng Khuang Province.

A Nearby “VHV” is Better than a Far-off Hospital
The medical standard in Laos is not very high. In Xieng Khuang Province, one of the worst affected areas by UXOs, each district has only one hospital that is able to provide decent medical treatment for victims of UXOs. There are only four ambulances available in the whole province. To make matters worse, most of the roads are unpaved which prevents ambulances from reaching hospitals during the rainy season. Delayed medical treatment has resulted in higher numbers of UXO-related deaths as well as victims who sustain life-altering bodily injury. Some victims do not even have a   choice but to give up going to hospitals because of their inability to cover their medical fees.

“I would like to share what I have learned with villagers,” said Ms. Syvai, a VHV in Phounven Village with Noriko ANDO on the right.