Go to main content

HI clearing weapons in eastern Laos

Explosive weapons
Laos

Laos is one of the countries most heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war in the world. HI’s weapons clearance teams on the ground are working to end this terrible threat to civilian lives. 

HI’s weapons clearance teams in eastern Laos

HI’s weapons clearance teams in eastern Laos. | © HI

Unprecedented level of contamination 

HI launched its weapons clearance operations on 21st January 2019 in Houameung district, Houaphan province, eastern Laos. Bombed during the Vietnam War, the country is heavily contaminated by anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs. These explosive remnants of war pose a constant threat to local lives. To protect them, HI has launched a major clearance operation in the region. 

Complex operation 

HI’s 14 weapons clearance experts start work at 7:30am and return home at 4:30pm. They are divided into three teams: survey, mobile and weapons clearance. Each team is involved at a different stage of the process, from identifying explosive devices to destroying them. Their task is made more difficult by the severe cold. They need to take extra care because of the steep mountainous terrain. It takes hours to trim the wild vegetation. HI’s mine clearance experts work 20 days in a row and then rest for a week.

Protecting civilians 

The teams do vital work. As the economy is based on agriculture, villagers cannot simply abandon contaminated farmland. They must farm it at risk to their lives. They are always in danger and many are killed or maimed. Since the start of the operation, HI’s teams have cleared 11,625 square metres of land. There are explosive remnants everywhere. In Houaxieng, a village of 423 inhabitants, the team found 42 unexploded live ordnance.

Building a safer future 

These remnants are highly explosive and cannot be handled or moved. They need to be destroyed on-site, one by one. It’s slow work. Local people also need to be educated about the risks. To reduce the number of casualties, HI runs a campaign to raise their awareness and provide them with information.

Where we work

Read more

Fatehia walks again thanks to HI’s teams
© ISNA Agency / HI
Emergency Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

Fatehia walks again thanks to HI’s teams

Eight-year-old Fatehia was seriously injured in a bombing raid on her village in northern Yemen. She now receives medical and psychological support from HI.

Ameen: "Now I can walk, I want to go back to university"
© HI
Emergency Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

Ameen: "Now I can walk, I want to go back to university"

Ameen, 19, was the victim of an explosion in Hodeidah, Yemen. He was injured in his right leg, just above the knee. Humanity & Inclusion supplied him with a prosthesis and helped him walk again.

Heba learns to walk with a prosthesis
© HI
Explosive weapons Rehabilitation

Heba learns to walk with a prosthesis

Heba is a 13-year-old girl. Her home in Sa'dah, Yemen, was struck by an airstrike last year. She suffered a serious leg wound and her leg had to be amputated.