Lao PDR | General Situation
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
No other country in the world has been bombed more heavily than the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). It is estimated that more than 260 million submunitions were dropped during the Indo-China War, also known as the Vietnam war (1964 to 1973).
Photo: Cluster munition remnants are very hard to see and pose a particular danger to children. Here, a group of children looks at a remnant like the one that killed two children in their village a few months prior. Nadoo Yai village, Laos, 2014.
© Paula Bronstein, Getty Images/ICRC
During the war, US pilots initially dropped bombs over Lao PDR that they had not used in
Vietnam, as it was too dangerous to land with the explosives on board. Later, the US Army
systematically bombed the country to cut off the Vietcong supply route, the so-called Ho Chi
Minh Trail. On this path, fighters and weapons from the north of Vietnam reached the south.
Eyewitnesses recall: “It was raining bombs”. During the nine years of war, the US Army dropped 288 million tons of explosives on Laos - more than had been used in the entire Second World War. This equals one ton of explosives for every inhabitant of the small country at that time.
Almost a third of all submunitions did not explode. Today, an estimated 80 million submunitions remain in the ground of Lao PDR, continuing to maim and kill civilians on a regular basis. Since the end of the war almost fifty years ago, the bombs have killed over
20,000 people, and a further 30,000 have lost limbs or eyesight. Almost half of all victims are children. Today, every fourth village in Lao PDR is still considered contaminated. It will take many more years to clear all unexploded ordnance so that future generations can live without fear.