ASEAN to strengthen assistance for Lao victims of UXO

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Laos, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the ASEAN Secretariat, organized on Oct 9 in Luang Prabang province a workshop for children and families who are affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination.

Twenty-four officials from the line agencies in charge of social affairs, assistance to victims, and de-mining of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam participated in the workshop. They exchanged ideas and discussed national policies and the best practices to ultimately benefit victims of UXOs and improve their lives, as well as prevent new victims in the future.

“Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam remain committed to providing social assistance to the victims through various ongoing programmes and strategies. Facing similar challenges, we could learn from each other and collaborate closely in responding to the needs of victims of unexploded ordnance in our respective countries,” said Chomyaeng Phengthongsawat, Deputy Director-General of the Planning and Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

Participants shared experiences in delivering assistance to victims including improving access to special schools, access to the job market, vocational training, rehabilitation, demining, and community awareness programmes. They also identified the gaps and challenges in providing comprehensive assistance to the victims especially those who are living in remote areas.

Among countries affected world-wide, Laos alone is estimated to have had 50,525 injuries or deaths resulting from mines or explosive remnants of war up to the end of 2012, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor.