MAG

My dear friend Katti whom I studied with in Bolzano arrived last week to visit and support me in Laos – after a 2 months journey with railways and buses from Helsinki through Russia, Mongolia and China! We are having some very productive days and since we will work with the UXO-Survivor Information Centre, one of the first places where I took Katti was the Visitor Centre of MAG where she  learnt about the bombing in Laos and the great work MAG is doing in order to make this country “safe” again…

From April 2007 to May 2011, MAG cleared 23,778,512m2 of suspect land in Lao PDR, destroying 145,000 items of UXO. As a result, 330,000 beneficiaries gained more safe land for farming, clean drinking water, latrines, irrigation for rice cropping, safe school compounds and tertiary roads.

I admire the work MAG is doing. It is crazy to be every day confronted with the remnants of war (which officially stopped over 40 years ago). Today I met a UXO-Survivor who lost his two legs in an UXO accident in 2008. He was working in the fields when he hit a bombie. He has 6 children. Another day we have to wait an hour in the car because MAG is deactivating bombs close to the road. And at many places you can see signs that tell about the danger of leaving the UXO-cleared paths. A while ago, I made a campfire on the ground – and my lao friend said: “Oh, we shouldn’t make the fire on the ground because of UXO.” The war which is over is not over. And it’s terrible that military troops all over the world still use land-mines and other horrible weapons that will continue to impact lives of people decades after the end of war…

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