Between 1964 and 1973, more than 240 million cluster bomb sub-munitions were dropped in Laos. 80 million of these bombs failed to explode and continue to pose a hazard to civilians. Since 1964, approximately 20,000 people have been killed or wounded by unexploded ordnance (UXO). Medical treatment, physical rehabilitation, and mental health services are extremely limited throughout Laos, and poor communications and transport networks prevent survivors and their families from accessing services, which are concentrated in provincial capitals.
World Education Laos’ Integrated UXO Victim Assistance Support Project provides support to UXO survivors through administration of the War Victims’ Medical Fund (WVMF) and the activities of the Victim Assistance Support Team (VAST). Nationwide, the WVMF supports survivors’ emergency medical costs, and in Xieng Khouang Province, VAST assesses survivors using a comprehensive psychosocial assessment form, evaluating their physical, social, and psychological needs to determine their overall mental health status. VAST works closely with the provincial and district hospitals in Xieng Khouang, as well as with local organizations such as the Quality of Life Association.
Since 1996, more than 900 UXO survivors have received support from the WVMF for their emergency medical costs, and since March 2014, VAST has delivered psychosocial assessments to more than 200 UXO survivors in Xieng Khouang. Based on assessed need, VAST facilitates survivors’ access to provincial hospitals, schools, and vocational training centers. VAST also conducts Peer-to-Peer Support Workshops, where UXO survivors can come together to share experiences and discuss how to cope with life after a UXO accident: in 2016, VAST welcomed five new Peer-to-Peer Support Facilitators to their team.
In addition, VAST has created a standard National First Aid Curriculum approved by the Ministry of Health; approximately 350 Village Health Volunteers have been trained in First Aid.
Watch a video about UXO survivors and the help they have received through World Education.