Laos

History of The Conflict

One of the results of the Second Indochina War (1964 to 1973) is the magnitude of the UXO problem remaining in Laos.

During the conflict, the country was subject to heavy aerial bombardment, resulting in the world’s largest contamination from unexploded submunitions. It is estimated that over 2 million tons of bombs were dropped on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the same period, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines were laid along the country’s borders and around military bases and airfields.

The Problem

While the number of mine and UXO related accidents continue to decrease, over 25% of all villages in Laos still remain contaminated, primarily with UXO.

Agricultural activities provide employment for over 80% of the country’s population and remain crucial to poverty reduction in Lao PDR. This has been identified by both the Government and the international institutions. UXO contamination poses a serious obstacle to this improvement and development.

Cluster munitions prevent access to potential agricultural land and, as demand and pressure for fertile land increase, villagers take risks every day in cultivating areas affected by UXO and accidents continue to occur.

The Solution

HALO’s survey, EOD and UXO clearance program will initially focus on two eastern districts in Savannakhet Province.

In the Laos Government’s country-wide rating of district development levels, these two districts rank among the poorest districts as measured by the national poverty index and suffer some of the highest UXO accident rates.

The UXO problem in Laos will be solved through accurate survey, correct clearance prioritisation and, most importantly, the implementation of large scale clearance. Regionally HALO has over 1,000 local staff in both Sri Lanka and Cambodia and almost 4,000 in Afghanistan conducting such clearance operations. The Government of Laos requires this scale of clearance if Millennium Development Goal 9 (reduce the impact of UXO) is to be met.

Requirement for Continued Clearance

The Government of Lao PDR aims to have cleared 200,000 hectares of contaminated priority land by 2020.

With the current clearance rates in Laos ranging between 4,000 - 5,000 hectares (all agencies) of contaminated land per year, increasing clearance capacities and efficiencies are crucial to achieving this goal.

Given that casualties are still occurring almost 40 years after the bombings ended, and contamination is so widespread, there is a clear requirement for increased clearance operations in order to ensure that high value agricultural land is cleared from the current threat in a shorter timeframe and the number of casualties is substantially reduced.

Program management - Senior staff

Zachary Brooks-Miller

HALO Program Manager

Zachary Brooks-Miller joined HALO in 2010.  Before becoming Program Manager in Lao PDR, Zach previously worked in Somaliland, Nagorno-Karabakh, Mozambique and Sri Lanka. Prior to joining HALO, Zach spent over three years in the United States Army, serving two tours of duty in Iraq. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History and a Masters Degree in International Affairs and Administration.

Jamie Monteith

HALO Laos Deputy Programme Manager

Jamie joined HALO in 2012, and trained in Somaliland and Afghanistan. After training, he was posted to the Mozambique programme where he managed mineclearance operations in Maputo province in the south of the country. He is currently employed in Laos supporting the Programme Manager and senior local Operations Management in the clearance of UXO remaining from the Vietnam War. BA (Hons) History.

Boonlon Silaluck

HALO Liaison Officer

Boonlon began working with HDI in April 2011 as the unexploded ordnance (UXO) Coordinator for Laos. He has over eight years of experience working with NGOs, most recently with Action Contre la Faim and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action. His primary responsibilities have been in operations, administration, unexploded ordnance survey, and technical translation. Boonlon holds a B.A. in English from Mahajulalongkorn University of Thailand in Chang Mai Province.

Xayxana Phutthavong

HALO Senior Operations Officer

Saysana joined HALO in early 2013 as the Senior Operations Officer. He started his career in UXO clearance in 1997 with UXO Laos, from and served six years as an instructor at the UXO Laos EOD School. Saysana also worked as a team leader with MAG and as a EOD/demining supervisor for BACTEC in Mozambique. He holds a Bachelor degree from University of Laos.

Chanthy Khounkhamphane

HALO Sepon Administrator

Chanthy joined HALO Laos in August 2013 as the Sepon Location Administrator. Prior to joining HALO he worked as a Project Officer with International Cooperation NGO IV-JAPAN  for 5 years, a Liaison Officer at German-Laos Association for Development (GLAD) for over 5 years as Supervisor of Production Department at Vientiane Diamond Cutting Ltd. Chanthy graduated with a B.A.in English from Mahachulalongkorn University, Faculty of Humanities.

Annemarie Poorterman

HALO Projects Officer

After completing HALO familiarisation in Sri Lanka and Cambodia, Annemarie joined the HALO Laos program in 2013 as the Projects Officer.  Annemarie holds a BSc in International Business Administration and a MSc in Security Studies.