Picture by: http://sea-globe.com/new-book-secret-war-us-laos/
It’s a normal day which 8-years old Simok spends together with his friends, playing in the endless forests of the
Together with his
“Noi! Khaek! Look what I found!”, Simok screams excited, holding up his new favorite toy. As Noi and Khaek arrive to the scenery, their faces solidify in fear and dread. They know, as children from the village, in contrast to Simok who is from Vientiane (the capital of DRP Laos), that the little ball in Simok’s hand is not a toy. What Simok is holding in his hand is Laos legacy of the Vietnam War, UXO (unexploded ordnance).
“Stay where you are and don’t move Simok!”, scream Noi and Khaek frightened, considering what to do next. Their faces are drawn by fear and Simok starts panicking. He does not know what is going on. Why are his friends suddenly so serious and scared to come closer towards him?
Afraid and confused, Simok makes the momentous decision to throw the ball back to the jungle and starts running towards his friends. A loud explosion, followed by darkness is all the 8-years old boy remembers…
Simok wakes up the next day in the local hospital and is in great pain. While his two friends only have bursted eardrums, Simok has lost both hands and his face is disfigured due to nasty scars which will stay for a lifetime. Traumatized and marked, his life will never be the same again.
The story of
What is UXO (unexploded ordnance) and where does it come from?
From 1964 to 1973 the US Army dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs over Laos in about 580,000 bombing missions, which is equivalent to one bombing mission every eight minutes (!), 24 hours a day, for nine years. Consequently, Laos is the most-heavily bombed country in the world.
The US Army had two aims in bombing Laos. One was to destroy the “Ho-Chi-Minh path”, a secret path through the jungles of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, named after Ho-Chi-Minh, leader of the Viet Minh (a communistic fighter group, also known as the “Viet Kong”). The path was consisting of many small paths, cowered by jungle and was used as a route to support the Viet Minh soldiers who were fighting against the US Army and its allies in southern Vietnam from 1955 until 1975 during the Second Indochina War, also known as the “Vietnam War”.
The other aim was to damage and destroy the “Pathet-Lao” (Eng.: “Land of the Lao”) movement, which was the Lao independent movement, supported by the Vietnamese Communists.
Officially, the USA never were at war with Laos.
Of the 2 million tons of bombs, more than 600,000 tons of bombs, about
Apart from big bombs, the US Army also dropped about 270 million “
The long progress of achieving safety for the Laos people
According to the UXO museum in Luang Prabang, Laos, which I visited in April 2018, the clearing of contaminated land will take, because of too little funding, at least 100 years from now. The government of the PDR Lao, the NGO “UXO Laos”, the “MAG (Mines Advisory Group)” and the government of the United States of America support the clearing of contaminated land financially, as well as physically.
To give an example, MAG has cleared 64 million square meters and surveyed 166 million square meters in the PDR Laos. MAG has as well destroyed over 230 000 unexploded ordnances and helped millions of people directly. Founded by governments, as well as organizations and private donators, MAG is worldwide the biggest organization which helps to clear
In 2016 president Obama announced, the US will provide an additional $90 million over the next three years to help Laos clear its land contaminated by UXO, which is $10 million
Until all land is cleaned in 2118, the people of Laos remain in a state of fear and anxiety, trying to make a living in their given circumstances…[