PM announces UXO clearance support for Laos

  • John Key
Prime Minister

New Zealand will provide up to NZ$11.5 million in support for clearing Viet Nam War-era unexploded munitions in Laos, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

The funding will include trialling innovative New Zealand technology which destroys unexploded ordnance (UXO) by melting casings without having to dig up or explode each piece, making it safer and easier to clear, particularly in densely populated or built up areas.

The announcement was made following Mr Key’s meeting with Laos’ Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Vientiane today, during the East Asia Summit.

“Laos is the most heavily bombed country on earth by head of population and is still clearing up around 80 million pieces of unexploded munitions left over from the war in Indochina during the 1960s and 1970s,” Mr Key says.

“Around a third of all bombs dropped at the time failed to explode and that unexploded ordnance kills or injures around 50 people every year, and stifles the country’s economic development.

“New Zealand has a strong legacy of supporting UXO clearance around the world, including for the past 20 years in Laos, and this funding will make a real difference to the safety and economic prospects of the people there.”

Mr Key also announced an ‘open skies’ air services agreement with Laos.

“This agreement builds on the network of air services agreements across South East Asia, a region which presents significant opportunities to New Zealand, and it will encourage greater connections between our two countries.”