VIENTIANE, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird pledged 1 million U.S. dollars in support of the Lao government's fight against unexploded ordnance (UXO) during his visit here Tuesday.
"It is my pleasure to be here today, the first Canadian Foreign Minister to conduct a bilateral visit to Laos since our two countries established diplomatic relations in 1954," Baird said during a visit to Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) who work to rehabilitate UXO survivors in Laos.
"I am also delighted to highlight during this groundbreaking visit, the importance, particularly in Laos, of the work being done to clear unexploded ordnance and to provide support to victims of explosive remnants of war."
The contribution by Canada will support two key projects in the fight against UXO. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) will make a minimum of 150,000 square meters of UXO-contaminated land safe and available for agricultural and economic development. Their work will greatly improve the lives and safety of more than 40 villages. The second project will support the partnership between Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme and UNDP. Canada's support, in addition to that of other donors, is expected to clear at least 2,375 hectares of agricultural land.
"Much has been done since the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty, and more recently the Cluster Munitions Convention in 2008 to remove the threat of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war, from clearance to destruction of stockpiles," Baird said. "More remains to be done. Laos is among those countries severely affected by cluster munitions and landmines, which continue to blight the lives and livelihoods of Laotians."
Between 1964 and 1973, Laos was drawn into the Indochina war and the country was victim to the heaviest bombing campaign in history. Approximately 30 percent of the bombs dropped on Laos failed to detonate on impact and continue to kill people 40 years after the conflict officially ended.