Photographer's Note

The Aftermath of the Secret War

I have deviated from my journal presentation for the purposes of continuity of subject. I will return to Day 9 later. See yesterday’s post for details of the Secret War.
With 1.9 million metric tonnes of ordinance dropped on Laos there is much that was unexploded. The biggest problem is the bomblets, locally called bombies, from the cluster bombs. They are no bigger than a small rock easily camouflaged to the eye of the farmer tilling his land………or the child playing in the field….
The Secret Air Force made 580,944 sorties:
Each cluster bomb held 670 bombies:
Each bombie held 300 ball bearings:
Each bombie operating on a clockwork mechanism, had to turn 2,400 times to explode:

Often the bombers flew too low so the bombies didn’t rotate the required number of times, leaving them lethal in the land. Imagine 670 unexploded bombies from just one bomb dropped too low. AND on average, a bomb was dropped every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day for 9 years.
Since the end of the war there have been over 11,000 casualties. Last year 54 people were killed, many of them children; usually about 40% are children. Over ¼ of the Lao population are still affected.
MAG(UK) started work in Laos to begin organised clearance of UXOs (unexploded ordinance) in 1994. In 1996 Laos created its own national organisation UXO Laos, with MAG advice and support. I’ll put a link at the end for those interested.
Ours was the first group led by our tour leader Angus that was allowed into UXO Laos Headquarters. The director took us into his office and showed us the map on the wall. Different coloured pins indicate which areas have been cleared and which villages have had visits to educate them on avoiding the UXOs. They employ 175 people, 14 of whom are women; they operate in 4 teams and each team explodes 100 - 200 UXOs per week. MAG also has teams working directly exploding UXOs.
Up to 30.12 .2005, and since organised clearance began, the following ordinance has been exploded:-
Bombies 102,702, mines 132, large bombs 137 , other items 85,219.
There is no forward estimate for when the job will be completed. Both UXO Laos and MAG(UK) rely heavily on charity donations to fund their work.

After the discussion in the office and the viewing of large posters we were taken outside to see the terrible display of recovered ordinance. This photo is of some bombies; not a pretty photo I know. I’m not expecting points, but want to raise awareness.; please leave your un-rated comments. There’s a wide view of the display in the WS

Information and statistics from UXO Laos, MAG(UK) website and our guide - Pet

To find outmore about MAG(UK) see here

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Additional Photos by Kath Featherstone (feather) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7646 W: 399 N: 14391] (51130)
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