Foreign Ministers of Canada and Norway Meet UXO Lao During COPE Visits
On 26 July 2016, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Stéphane Dion, paid a visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Visitor Center in Vientiane and observed the work of the Center for Medical Rehabilitation (CMR).
During the visit, UXO Lao Director Mr. Thiphasone SOUKHATHAMMAVONG delivered a summary presentation on survey and clearance work in Lao PDR, detailing progress so far, new methods and plans for the future. This covered UXO Lao's achievements since 1996 and ended with a warm expression of gratitude for the extensive support that Canada has provided to the UXO sector in Lao PDR since 2010.
On the same day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Børge Brende, also visited COPE. Mr. Brende was briefed by Mr. Thiphasone and Jonas Zachrisson, Country Director of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in Lao PDR on the terms of the new partnership project that is being implemented in the country by both organizations.
Mr. Thiphasone, expressed his profound thanks to Norway and NPA for supporting the transition to evidence-based clearance in Lao PDR. This new methodology has proved a significant increase of the productivity of clearance. Now, land is cleared based on analysis of data and technical survey, so that uncontaminated land is not cleared. Since UXO Lao started using this new methodology, the average number of cluster munitions found per hectare cleared has increased from 5 to more than 22.
Mr. Thiphasone also expressed his gratitude to Norway for their generous support to UXO Lao, which enable UXO Lao to achieve several output results as planned. He also expressed his hope to continue working with both Canada and Norway to implement the organisation's future plans to address the remaining problem of UXO contamination and help the country on the road to development.