Xieng Khuang Province,Laos

Yep, I’m going all Amnesty on your asses again. But some of this really is shocking, and that’s quite a statement when the last country was Cambodia.

So technically Xieng Khuang covers Phonsavan and the surrounding area, but is worth a post of its own purely for the two harrowing documentaries we watched at MAG; the Mines Advisory Group; one of the main Government organisations in Laos which runs a local community cinema in Phonsavan to educate, raise awareness and run outreach projects.

‘Bombies’ and ‘Harvest’ both about The Secret War and Laos’ UXOs. (unexploded Ordinance = bombs)

They were 2h docs, but I’ll keep it to the five most shocking bits we took away:

*Laos still remains the most bombed country in the world, with over 2 million tons of bombs dropped by the USA between 1964 – 73. This is despite the US breaking every rule of the Geneva Convention – whereby Laos was declared a neutral nation, in the neighbouring war with Vietnam, hence The Secret War. The bombing of Laos was widely denied by the US Government and undocumented for years. They still refuse to offer anything but minimal aid in the clear up operation.

*Around 30% of bombs never exploded, meaning 40 years on, the country is still plagued with unexploded cluster bombs that mame and kill.

*Although North Vietnam was often the primary target, weather and their defence strategies often means attacks couldn’t go ahead. This meant US aircraft often couldn’t lose face by returning to base with ‘un-dropped amo’as safety checks were too much admin, so they simply off loaded bombs into Laos villages just to save on the papwerwork, as well as sometimes finding secondary targeting with the supply lines on the Ho Chi Minh Trail which extended into Laos.

*A third of all UXO casualties at present are children, who often know the risks but are actively encouraged by their parents to hunt for and dig up ‘bombies’ as the skyrocketing process for scrap metal can feed a family for 3 months.

*Despite the essential work done by organisations like MAG & COPE, If clean up carries on at current rates, it will take Laos 100 years to be clear of UXO.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

January 2012

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