"On a per capita basis, Lao PDR is the most heavily affected country in the world with up to 25 percent of its villages affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and cluster munitions. UXO still injures and kills around 300 Lao people every year. Hiding everywhere, these deadly weapons can be found in rice fields, school yards, on hillsides, in rivers, along roads and paths and even in towns. As well as posing constant danger, cluster munitions contribute to greater food insecurity of already poor and often malnourished rural people by limiting their access to farmland and killing their livestock. UXO increases poverty, makes development activities more expensive and limits the socio-economic development of the entire country. For Lao PDR, this challenge is on a vast scale as? it is estimated that it will take up to 16 years just to clear high priority land for agriculture, schools, villages and irrigation......" (UNDP, 2008)
This documentary was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgium and is one of the key outputs of the 'Sustainable 101:Victim Assistance 10 years on' project currently being implemented by the Policy Unit of Handicap International (Belgium).
Working together with its partners from global civil society, Handicap International has contributed to the drafting, universalization and implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions in particular provides very strong provisions on victim assistance, largely shaped by the advocacy efforts of cluster munition survivors through the Ban Advocates initiative. On 2 September 2009, Handicap International released the report "Voices from the Ground" (VG), on progress and challenges in victim assistance seen from the perspective of landmine/ERW/cluster survivors themselves. This report followed two previous reports on the human impact of cluster munitions, namely "Fatal Footprint" (2006) and "Circle of Impact"(2007).
From 9-12 November 2010, the Lao People's Democratic Republic will host the first meeting of the states that joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which entered into force on 1 August 2010. More than a hundred states, civil society representatives and survivors of cluster munitions will gather in Vientiane to put the Convention into practice, and to find ways to meet the needs of affected people and communities more effectively.