US President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced doubling of the assistance to efforts to help remove millions of unexploded bombs and explosive ordnance (UXO) in Laos.
The announcement to increase funding to $90 million over three years to remove the danger of UXO was made in a speech delivered by Obama to an audience in Vientiane’s National Culture Hall during his visit, the first by a US President to the southeast Asian country.
“it’s more than we were expecting “,said Simon Rea,the Laos country director for the Mines Advisory Group ,which helps people
wounded by landmines and receives US funding :I think that it is a very significant move and it willmove us forward very quickly.”
Laos bore the brunt of US bombing raids in the so-called “Secret War” during the period from 1964-1973 which saw some 2.5 million tonnes of ordnance dropped during the military intervention in the landlocked country, Obama said.
Obama said the US had a moral obligation to assist in safely removing the threat of UXO, a “painful legacy of war” that continued to shatter lives in Laos.
“Many of the bombs that were dropped never exploded,” Obama said.
He also expressed thanks to the government of Laos for its contribution to repatriate the remains of US service personnel declared missing in action over several years.