The U.S. dropped more than two million tons of bombs on Laos during the Vietnam War. Handicap International’s Laotian demining teams have been clearing deadly unexploded ordnance (UXO) since 2006. Handicap International Deminer Lumngen explains what her job involves and what motivates her to do this challenging work.
Cluster bombs have been used in at least 47 airstrikes in Syria since 27 May 2016, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch. Dozens of civilians were killed in these offensives. Before the release of these figures, the NGO had already published two reports, in February 2016 and December 2015, condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.
Since January 2016, Handicap International runs a logistics platform to help humanitarian organisations reach the most vulnerable people in the Central African Republic. Despite challenging conditions, Handicap International’s lorries continue to deliver humanitarian aid to the most isolated areas of the country. Cyril Chérie, Handicap International’s logistics project manager in Bangui, tells us more.
Uma, 18, lost her leg after Nepal earthquake. Thanks to Handicap International support, she received a prosthesis and can now walk again.
In July 2011, Handicap International launched its emergency operations in eastern Kenya in response to a massive influx of refugees from Somalia. Fleeing drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, hundreds of thousands of people settled in the Dadaab camp. With a population of 450,000 people, it became the world’s largest refugee camp. Still present in the field, Handicap International provided assistance to 12,000 people in 2015.
1 August 2016 is the 6th anniversary of the entry into force of the Oslo Convention banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Despite the undeniable success of the Convention, which has now been signed by 119 States, the use of cluster munitions has reached record levels since 2010.
Since being accredited as a demining operator in 2006, Handicap International has cleared more than 25,000 unexploded ordnances (UXO) in Laos, the most heavily bombed country, per capita, on earth. Leonard Kaminski, the New Zealand-born chief of operations for Handicap International’s demining program in Laos, answers questions about Lao’s UXO problem and the organization’s efforts to clear these weapons.
More than 50,000 people in Laos have been killed or injured by explosive remnants of war leftover from the Vietnam War. Millions of bombs still litter the land. Handicap International mine risk education teams educate children and adults about how to protect themselves and reduce the risk of accidents from these deadly weapons.
Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. dropped millions of bombs on Laos as part of secret campaign to cut off North Vietnamese supply routes through the country. Today, Laotians like Nang, a mother of five, are still being injured and killed by explosive remnants of war. Handicap International helps victims to regain their economic independence. In 2015, the organization gave Nang two goats so she could start a breeding business.
A small wooden house along a road, in a small village not far from the Mekong river. A man leaning on a crutch is selling a bottle of water, while a woman is vigorously washing laundry in a bowl. Tirean and Navea were both victims of mines in the 1980s. They are both monitored by the Handicap International rehabilitation centre in Kompong Cham.
In early 2016, Handicap International launched its weapons clearance actions in the governorates of Kirkuk and Diyala, in Iraq. Clearance operations will soon start in these regions, after several months of preliminary non-technical surveys and the marking of contaminated areas.
Two years ago, we met Nouay Phonesomxay, a Lao cluster bomb victim and Handicap International deminer. In May 2016, we caught up with Nouay as he and his team cleared land around Ponntong village, which was located near the former Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese used the Ho Chi Minh Trail to bring supplies through Laos to support troops in Southern Vietnam. This route was heavily bombed by the U.S., and a high level of UXO pollution remains in the area today.
Under the blazing sun and 102F (39C) heat, Nouay Phonesomxay and his fellow Handicap International deminers slowly move through the dense vegetation inside a 2,500 square meter plot, looking for bombs. Once primary jungle, the foliage was decimated by U.S. bombing during the Vietnam War and now only weeds and bramble grown here.
Baramulla Tigers against the Kupwara Tigers. In early June 2016, Handicap International organized the first ever cricket match to include players with and without disabilities at Handwara degree college, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. A big success and an opportunity to foster the inclusion of young people with disabilities in society.
Handicap International provides risk education on the explosive remnants of war that contaminate the ground in villages close to boarder with Pakistan. The organisation also provides rehabilitation care to the most vulnerable people.
The conflict that tore through the Gaza Strip in summer 2014 not only caused extensive material damage, it left nearly 10,000 unexploded devices behind: rockets, missile warheads and bombs. Since March 2015, Handicap International’s teams have been raising the awareness of people living in the worst-affected neighbourhoods to prevent potentially deadly accidents. One such session, in Deir Al-Balah, led to the defusing of four unexploded devices.