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Australia supports clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Laos

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Foreign Minister Bob Carr today reaffirmed Australia's commitment to assist Laos to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines from agricultural and other land and to save lives and reduce injuries in Lao communities.

Senator Carr said Australia will provide an additional $5.4 million to support UXO clearance efforts, as well as mine risk education and survivor assistance.

"More than 20,000 people have been killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents in the four decades since the Indo-China war ended in 1974.

"Many of those killed or injured over this time have been children and the unacceptable death and injury toll climbs each year.

"Australia's $5.4 million support will enable the demining agency UXO Laos and other organisations to clear more than 2,500 hectares of agricultural land and access ways.

"It will also provide rehabilitation services to 4,000 UXO accident survivors and people with a disability.

"This four-year funding is part of a $43 million commitment to a rural livelihoods program announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November 2012.

"Landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war pose a threat in many developing countries like Laos.

"They harm and kill innocent civilians and impede development.

"Australia has supported UXO clearance and victim assistance in Laos since 1996," Senator Carr said.

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