Ireland commits €2 million to support UXO sector in Laos

January 21, 2013

The Government of Ireland has confirmed its commitment to supporting the UXO sector in the Lao PDR through a multi-year contribution of Euros 2 million (2.7 million USD) through 2015.

The contribution will further strengthen the capacity of the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) and UXO Lao, the two national institutions tackling the deadly legacy of unexploded ordnance in Laos. The funding will be channeled through the UXO Trust Fund, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

A ceremony was held today to mark an agreement, signed between Mr. Damien Cole, Ambassador of Ireland to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and Mr. Minh Pham, the UNDP Resident Representative, at the National Regularity Authority (NRA) for UXO / Mine Action Sector office in Vientiane. Mr. Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune, Director General of NRA addressed the event, which was attended by Mr. Bounheuang Douangphachanh, Minister to the Government Office, other government officials and representatives of development partners.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Cole stated that “Disarmament is a key priority for Irish foreign and security policy in accordance with international humanitarian law and the protection of human rights. I will expect the Programme will continue the battle to rid Lao PDR of the scourge of UXO and reduce the negative effects these have on Lao PDR’s economic and social development”.

Mr. Pham said: “This contribution, which was confirmed in November last year, is very timely and highly appreciated. UNDP is currently working with the government of the Lao PDR to finalize a new Programme cycle to support the institutional strengthening, providing support to the UXO victims, better coordination among the UXO sector, and accelerating prioritized land release in line with national development priorities”.

Ireland has been a consistent and generous partner to the UXO sector in the Lao PDR contributing over US$ 4.7 million since 2006. Ireland also played a leading role in the development and promotion of the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention, and more recently the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). The Lao PDR and Ireland are currently co-chairing Clearance and Risk Reduction committee of the Convention.

“Ireland is proud of its relationship with the Lao PDR in the areas of UXO clearance”, Mr. Cole noted. The UXO Trust Fund was established in 2010 to increase Government ownership, improve coordination and effective prioritization of work in the UXO sector.

The Trust Fund helps to ensure that UXO actions are coordinated with the government’s national development priorities, as outlined in the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2011-2015.

Ireland’s contribution will support NRA’s policy making, UXO sector coordination regulatory work, as well as UXO Lao operations, including clearance, roving tasks, surveys, land release, as well as risk education and training.

Tackling the UXO issue is critical for long-term sustainable and equitable development, and continued support from the international community is required to assist the Lao people in realizing their right to live without harm or fear of UXO and to achieve their aspirations for poverty reduction.

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