There were 600,000 bombing runs in Laos which saturated the country, one every nine minutes for nine years without declaring war. Nice one USA! How about helping clean up the mess and allowing the people of Laos to go about farming safely and without losing life and limb in the process? Here is a short video demonstrating the bombing raids using large bombs (green) and cluster bombs (red)
One third of the bombs did not explode and there are about 80 million bombs which need to be cleared up. About 1 million have been cleaned up in the last 20 years. Do the maths and see how long it will take to clean up this mess. Approximately 25% of villages are contaminated by UXO. 41 of the poorest 46 districts are contaminated by UXO.
A tragical side effect is that many innocent bystanders are killed and maimed when they inadvertently set these bombs off as they work in the fields.
To put things into perspective,
- Since 1975 there has been a total of 105,902 ERW (Explosive Remnants of War) casualties in Vietnam.
- Since 1979 there has been a total of 64,017 ERW casualties in Cambodia.
- Since 1979 there has been a total of 50,136 ERW casualties in Laos PDR. Now let us look at this another way: The population of Vietnam is over 88 million, the population of Cambodia is 14 million, whilst the population of Laos is just 6 million, so the devastation there is relatively speaking much higher there than in Cambodia and Vietnam.
In 2012 Japan donated $2.2 million to Laos over a three year period, but this only clears 600 hectares of land. This gives some idea of how much money will be needed to clear the entire country.
Source: http://www.nra.gov.la/ National Regulatory Authority for UXO clearance
As more dams are created, villagers are forced to move into contaminated areas, and the total area which needs to be cleared beggars belief and at current rates will take 3,000 years.
My first aim is to raise and donate $1 million to help with cleaning up the bombs and to provide prosthetics for those unfortunate enough to lose a limb. If I can get 100,000 ppl to donate $10 each or 1 million ppl to donate $1 each I will achieve the goal and increase awareness of the problem.
I am pleased to have raised and donated over $3,000 to date.
I have made the following donations to three charities:
$1,500 to www.copelaos.org who provide prosthetics
$280 to http://www.mivac.org/ (mines, victims and clearance) who started as a group of Australian Vietnam Veterans who set out to clear UXO (Unexploded ordnance) in Vietnam and have now turned their attention to Laos. One receipt for $250 is shown in the Cleanupthebombs.org page. The other $30 was for an annual membership.
$1,200 to sponsor five deminers for a month's salary each ($240 a month) in Cambodia, I picked Rith Kry, Tha Makera, both deminers, and the medic and the interpreter/driver from the Sponsor a Deminer page at VVMCT (described below). In the 6 years that CSHD (Cambodian Self Help Demining) has been in operation there have been no accidents save for a snake bite or two. The three former Aussie field engineers including Gerry Lyall have trained the CSHD men and women very well. They also run an orphanage in Siem Reap. Apart from having a truck which transports a big team, they have a new much smaller rapid response unit of a jeep and a couple of deminers to go to anywhere a mine is found to sort the situation out, and I am awaiting the names of these deminers to sponsor them next.
For the next little while I will be supporting a new project in Cambodia, HeroRATS, training rats to clean minefields. This approach was first used in Mozambique by the Belgian NGO, APOPO. Apopo are now transferring this knowledge to Cambodia. Eventually I want to be more involved with Laos, where they have a bigger problem.
An anonymous donor has gifted $250 (HUGE THANKS) which as soon as Paypal process it will also go to fund, this time, the interpreter / driver for a month. Copies of receipts for all the donations can be viewed from my personal website or cleanupthebombs.org
Any time I raise $250 or so I will pass it to one of these charities or those below. Eventually I want to save enough to seed a new project and to have some cost control to ensure the money ends up exactly where it is supposed to. At my own expense I will be travelling to Laos sometime in 2015 or 2016 to scope things out more.
Mine clearance in Cambodia seems to be more advanced. For example there is an organisation called VIETNAM VETERANS MINE CLEARING TEAM - CAMBODIA Inc at http://members.optusnet.com.au/glaust/
They have an excellent model where you can sponsor one of the deminers for a month (as I have done) or more or for a year, and I am looking to assist such an approach in Laos. However, Laos seems to be very much the forgotten country of the world, and will be the last place to be cleaned up and it will take the longest time due its terrain, remoteness and the world's apathy.
Eventually I want to help other charities, such as Laos own efforts to clear the mines through http://uxoclearance.org/ and http://www.uxolao.org but I am having difficulty with the language barrier at the moment, and uxoclearance are raising funds for a documentary at the moment and I want to donate to cleaning up the bombs. I already know the problems without needing a documentary.
The best way you can help is Donate $1, Share this on Facebook and ask all your friends to do the same. If everyone does this, it shouldn't take long to raise a million... $1 is not a lot to ask...
At the moment I have not registered this as a charity, as this would incur costs associated with audits, and I want 100% of the money raised to get to its destination. Once I have raised larger sums of money, then I will convert it into a charity.
I have also created a website dedicated to the problem and to increase awareness of "The Secret War" and its consequences that the USA are refusing to face up to or even acknowledge.
Response from the Big Four Banks
I wrote to the CEOs of the Big Four Banks asking for their support. I received a long letter back from Westpac pointing out that they supported a whole bunch of conventions. Must have cost at least $40 to have written the letter, but it was thanks but no thanks. But hey, that was waaaay better than NAB, ANZ and Westpac, none of whose CEOs bothered to reply.. This notice will remain here to shame them.... I might even write to them again, now that I have this website running so they know their name can be here on the donors list or the shame list!
Below is the receipt for the first donation I made for buying prosthetics in Laos.... I have posted receipts of all other donations on cleanupthebombs.org and on my personal website, arthurgalletly.com
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