Thursday, 17 October 2013

Coping with cluster bombs

Laos is the most bombed country in the world.

Not many people know that, strangely enough as it was never publicised at the time.

The US spent $2m a day to bomb neutral Laos during the Vietnam war - every day for nine years.

WTF America?!

The reasoning behind the bombing was to close down the Ho Chi Minh trail which came over the border from Vietnam, but they managed to bomb 70% of the country.

However the effects are still seen 40 years later as 30% of the ordnance is unexplored and still live in the ground in Laos - just waiting for kids to pick up cluster bombs (they look like tennis balls) and play with them. Or for the adults to see a large bomb casing and imagine how much money it will bring them to feed their family.

Bombies - the anti personnel cluster bombs - one canister could cover a 30m radius

100 people die from bombs or bombies exploding each year.

Many more are injured and disabled.

This is where organisations like COPE come in. We visited the COPE centre in Vientiane, next to the disabled stadium & Paralympic training centre.  

COPE helps people without limbs from exploded ordnance and other disabled people in Laos - including those with club foot. They help in a number of ways - prosthetic limbs, household improvements, physical therapy and training with specially adapted devices like the ones below:

Despite the fact that the Americans are to blame for the unexplored ordnance their main source if funding is from Austria - not the US.... Even Hillary Clinton admitted that the US should do more in a recent visit.

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