Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world during the Vietnam war. Between beautiful waterfalls and walks through the serene streets of Luang Prabang, 30 minutes to the UXO Lao Visitor Center will open your eyes to the terrible Lao story.
Between the years 1964 and 1973, the United States carried out more than half a million bombing missions, releasing more than two million tons of explosive devices. It is equivalent to a loading plan every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years.
More than 270 million sub-munitions (bombs) from cluster bombs were launched on Laos. About 80 million did not explode.
50,000 civilians were killed or mutilated by UXO incidents (unexploded ordnance), at least 20,000 people since the end of the war in 1973. Half of the victims are children.
A person is killed or injured almost daily from UXO in Laos.
The visitor center is part of the UXO National Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO Lao), the national UXO settlement operator. While the room is poorly lit and a bit shabby, educational signage is excellent, taking you through history, impact, current problems, the gradual process of demining and the overwhelming amount of work that awaits them. In four decades less than 1% of the unexploded bombs were made to shine. At the current pace, the country will live with this problem for centuries.
Forty-one of the 46 poorest districts in Laos have a contamination from UXO. It limits the infrastructure and expansion of crops, causing food shortages and hindering people’s ability to have sustainable livelihoods.