NEWS ROUNDUP April 2015

2015 April

April 30, 2015
The Greatest Danger in the World: America’s Vietnam War is Not Over

Here is the start of a long read on what life is like for many in the border region between central Vietnam and Laos. The killing continues:
We visited a number of the victims of unexploded ordnance and toxic herbicides, which brings home the human dimensions of suffering, misery and death that are the inevitable legacy of war. The primary causes of exploding war-era ordnance today are farmers working in their fields and scrap metal collectors. Scrap metal can earn a villager as much as $75 a year–a meaningful sum of money to the impoverished and one of the only sources of income available to them. Nguyen Xuan Thiet in Quang Tri Province made part of his annual income to support his family by collecting and selling scrap metal. More…

April 29, 2015
Sudan: Detonating UXO Kills Herder in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

East Jebel Marra — A herder in East Jebel Marra, North Darfur, was killed on Tuesday when a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO) detonated.
“Abdelhalim Omar Adam (21) was herding his camels in the area of Turbo, south of Dubo El Omda, when a war remnant exploded. He died instantly, together with two of his camels,” a witness told Radio Dabanga. The rest of this short story is at AllAfrica.com.

April 24, 2015
World War II bomb found at college detonated by military disposal unit in New Jersey

A World War II era bomb, found during a building project at Middlesex County College, was successfully detonated Thursday night by a military disposal team at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst.
The discovery prompted college officials to order the evacuation of construction workers. However, classrooms and other campus facilities further from the scene were not included in the order. Read more from the Jersey Shore here.

April 24, 2015
Free school site has ‘credible’ explosives threat in UK

A free school says it is expecting to move “in the coming autumn” to a permanent site by an airport runway – despite an asbestos issue and a credible threat from unexploded Second World War mines.
But a study seen by Schools Week shows that the eight-acre site was part of former RAF Hurn from 1941. The airport was a bomb target during the war, with pipemines containing explosives laid on the airfield as a deterrent to German troops. Read more about this explosive learning environment at Schools Week UK.

April 16, 2015
Vietnam War shells found in Quang Tri farm

An ordnance clearance team in Quang Tri Province in central Vietnam on Wednesday collected five mortar and artillery shells left from the Vietnam War at a local farm.
The team of Peace Trees Vietnam, the first foreign organization signing up for removing unexploded ordnance in Vietnam, said the items could have exploded anytime if hit.
They were first found during a search for remains of soldiers killed in the war in the area. More at Thanh Nien News.

April 8, 2015
Ukraine: skirting mines to deliver for children in need

It is something I could not have imagined a year ago, but going to the conflict-affected territories of eastern Ukraine has become a regular part of my job. Recently I returned from one such mission, to Donetsk region. I believe the memories from the road will stay in my mind forever.
We set off for Donetsk on a Sunday morning. Our mission was driving in a convoy of UN armored vehicles. We passed the checkpoints fast, and as we were driving, I was told that we were heading to Debaltseve. When I heard it, the level of adrenaline in my blood rose significantly.
Read mroe about life in Ukraine these days over at UNICEF.

April 7, 2015
Cambodia – Mine, UXO Explosions Casualties Up in 2014

Both the number of accidents and casualties caused by old landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) rose by nearly 40 percent last year, according to the latest government data, though the two figures were still the second lowest on record following years of progress in demining.
According to a year-end report from the government’s Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA), 98 mine and UXO explosions caused 157 casualties in 2014. That included 21 people who died and 38 who had limbs amputated. More about this grim news at The Cambodia Daily.

April 6, 2015
ANAMA disarmed 77 UXOs and 12 mines last month in Azerbaijan

1 886 457 sq m area was inspected and cleared from mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO) in March, 2015.
Press service of the ANAMA told APA that 77 UXOs, 4 antitank and 8 antipersonnel mines were disarmed. A few more numbers from the Azerbaijan Press Agency.

April 4, 2015
Column: The deadly, horrible mess we made still plagues Indochina

April 30, 2015, marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. As we reflect on the legacies of the Vietnam War, two of the most deadly weapons of war left behind – Agent Orange and unexploded ordnance, called UXO – continue to haunt Indochina.
During the war, the U.S. military had used the powerful herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange to spray along the Ho Chi Minh trails in Laos and South Vietnam. Its purpose was to clear away jungle and eliminate Viet Cong hideouts, disrupting the movement of soldiers and food supplies. Years after the war, the people along the trail continue to suffer health maladies and dire consequences, including dioxin poisoning. The Vietnamese government says that dioxin levels remain 100 times higher than the international standards in some of these areas. The Merced Sun has the rest of the column here.

April 2, 2015
Reminder: Unexploded ordnance surveys seminar (UK)

Immediately following Seawork International 2015 in Southampton, The Hydrographic Society UK is to stage a one-day seminar and table-top exhibition at Southampton Solent University’s Conference Centre on Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Surveys, on Friday 19 June.
For more information and links, click here.

April 1, 2015
It’s about ‘more than mines’ senior UN official says ahead of International Day of Action

As the world marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of the global mine ban treaty and commemorates International Mine Awareness Day, the head of the United Nations’ office dealing with the threat they pose stressed today the importance of looking beyond the effects of just anti-personnel mines.
Agnès Marcaillou, Director of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), told reporters in New York the significance of the commemoration had expanded over the years and that now it was “mine awareness week” rather than just “mine awareness day.”
Unfortunately, the article from the UN doesn’t mention that the International Day of Action is April 4. Oh well.

April 1, 2015
Eleven-year-old girl wounded in wartime shell blast

Not an April Fools joke: An 11-year-old girl seriously injured in an explosion believed to be caused by a Vietnam War-time ordnance on Sunday is now in stable condition, doctors said. YMinh said she found a “metal ball” in the field, and when she threw it away the ball went off. More on the girl’s story at Thanh Nien News.

NEWS ROUNDUP July 2014

July2014News

July 31, 2014
Boaters urged to exercise caution


Garrison Petawawa has deployed marker buoys, like this one, to warn boaters of prohibited areas on the Ottawa River (Canada). While beaches have been cleared of unexploded ordnance, officials warn of possible encounters with unexploded munitions not yet recovered.
Ottawa River beaches stretching along the garrison’s eastern border have been cleared, officials are reminding boaters of possible encounters with unexploded munitions. More in the (Ottawa) Daily Observer.

July 31, 2014
Concerns over a ‘ticking time bomb’ in estate

Fears have been raised over a ‘ticking time bomb’ hidden underground on a site proposed for 127 new homes. Residents have been left horrified after it was revealed there is a ‘risk’ of unexploded munitions on a former military site at Killingworth Moor (England).
Campaigners against plans for housing on the site have criticised developers Bellway Homes for continuing with the plans and not informing residents. An unexploded ordnance (UXO) report, produced by consultants as part of Bellway’s first phase for developing homes on the site, says all anomalies should be excavated and investigated. More at the News Guardian.

July 25, 2014
UXO kills one in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra

Sara Yagoub Eisa was killed by a detonating grenade in the area of Mashrou Abu Zeid, East Jebel Marra, on Tuesday afternoon.
One of her relatives told Radio Dabanga that when she was ploughing her farmland with her donkey, she hit a grenade. The bomb detonated, killing Eisa and the donkey instantly. Story from Radio Dabanga.

July 21, 2014
Cambodian Peacekeepers in Mali injured by UXO blast

Two Cambodian United Nations peacekeepers in Mali were injured after their car ran over an anti-personnel landmine on Friday.
Driver Sim Veoun’s leg was broken in the blast, while the other wounded peacekeeper, Chan Saveoun, was slightly injured, according to Ouk Bunthan, deputy director of the mines and explosive war remnants clearance department at the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces. The Phnom Penh Post has the rest of the story.

July 18, 2014
Vietnamese teens find large cache of cluster bombs, rockets

Two Vietnamese teenagers led technicians to a large cache of unexploded ordnance buried in a coastal forest, a legacy from U.S. military intervention in the country. The boys reported their discovery after hearing the sounds of controlled detonations of old bombs made by technicians with Project Renew, an organization based in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province. You can read more in Stars and Stripes.

July 18, 2014
Treasure hunter finds WWII ordnance on Tumon Bay (Guam)

Parts of Tumon Bay were evacuated this afternoon after one man’s hunt for treasure uncovered something more.
Thirty feet from the shore of Reef Hotel, a local man and his metal detector uncovered a reminder from the island’s past. “There was a person in the water with a metal detector and they found a five inch US naval projectile that’s armed,” Navy EOD Senior Chief Petty Officer Brian Fitzgerald. Just in time for Guam’s 70th Liberation Day celebrations, Senior Chief Fitzgerald says the projectile dates back to World War II. See more at KUAM News.

July 17, 2014
Congressman Honda Awarded For His Work on Unexploded Ordnance

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA17) was honored Tuesday night by the not-for-profitorganization Legacies of War for his work in raising awareness about, and securing finds to remove, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) in Laos. The award was presented at Legacies of War 10th Anniversary Event at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC. Read more at Congressman Honda’s website.

July 16, 2014
Rocket goes off: Explosion in Pursat hurts eight people

An old rocket seriously injured at least eight people when it exploded in Pursat province yesterday, after a child found the missile and used it as a toy with a relative in his village.
Three women, three men and two children – all related – are being treated at the provincial hospital after the child took the unexploded ordnance (UXO) to the family’s Stung Thmey village home. More at The Phnom Penh Post.

July 11, 2014
Casualties from UXO accelerate in Cambodia

Casualties from mines and unexploded ordnance are on track to outpace last year’s count, according to new government data.
In the first five months of this year, 89 people were either killed or injured by the deadly remnants of war, Cambodian Mine Action Centre director-general Heng Ratana said yesterday. The centre’s tally for the whole of 2013 is 111. The Phnom Penh Post has more.

July 10, 2014
Vietnam War legacy lives on in unexploded bombs


A demining team carefully removed a pile of rusty explosives – each one still able to kill or maim – from a quiet ploughed field where fierce fighting once raged in the Vietnam War.
Shortly after the lethal mortars and grenade launcher rounds were taken away, an anxious farmer in her 50s marched over to the team during their recent mission.
The farmer, Van Thi Nga, stumbled across the relics while growing vegetables, the main source of income in her village that sits along the war’s former demarcation zone and is strewn with hidden explosives. More at Asian Correspondent.

July 8, 2014
When the idea of a bomb-free Laos became possible: An interview with Channapha Khamvongsa

It started with hand drawings from survivors. Black bombies littering the sky. Red markings everywhere. Farmers running across the green fields. These drawings would be the start of what would lead to learning about a lost history and one woman’s passion to advocate what many thought would be the impossible: a bomb-free Laos. Read more about Channapha Khamvongsa at the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

July 8, 2014
ANAMA to complete mine clearance operations along frontline within 3 years

Azerbaijan will complete mine and UXO clearing operations in the areas along frontline within 3 years, Director of Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) Nazim Ismayilov told journalists, APA reports. You can read a little bit more at APA.
Ismayilov said that the Agency is carrying out operations in the liberated areas, as well as in the training ranges and military bases exploded by the Soviet Army.

July 7, 2014
‘South Kordofan littered with unexploded ordnance’: SPLM-N

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has warned for a catastrophe in South Kordofan, as the number of land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the region has increased significantly during the past months of bombing and shelling by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
The SPLM-N governor of the areas under rebel control in South Kordofan, Simon Kalu, stressed in a statement on Saturday that the lives of thousands of civilians are in great danger if international organisations will not intervene and remove the UXO. “During the past few months, the Sudanese Air Force dropped hundreds of bombs on the region. Many of them did not explode.” More at the ever-busy Radio Dabanga.

July 7, 2014 Canada: Beware Of UXO – They’re Out There!

We recently acted for the owner/operator of a scrap yard, who decided to shut down its business after more than 50 years in operation and sell their property to a developer. As would be expected, the purchase agreement required the vendor to remove the scrap metal stored on the site prior to closing. On the day before closing, while the crane operator was picking up the remaining scrap at the far corner of the property and dumping it in a truck to be hauled away, he came upon what appeared to be a large cache of shells and other munitions. Read the rest of this UXO story from Canada at Mondaq.

July 2, 2014 Fungi farming brings safe money to bomb-addled Quang Tri

Ever since the war, Quang Tri Province’s poor have made a dangerous living selling the unexploded remains of the US’s mammoth bombing campaign, but a new program gives them a safer option – planting fungi. “Growing mushrooms suits the disabled victims of bombs – those with disabilities and poor health,” said Do Thien Dang who lost his legs in an accident caused by unexploded ordnance (UXO). See the rest of the story at Thanh Nien News.

NEWS ROUNDUP May 2014

May2014News

May 28, 2014
Vietnam eager to spur wide-ranging cooperation with US on UXO and other issues

(Among other things,) In addition, Dung asked the US to increase cooperation and provide more support for Vietnam to help it deal with post-war consequences of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as Agent Orange (AO), adding that Vietnam is ready to cooperate with the US in ecological environment protection. Read the full diplomatic story at Vietnam Net.

May 26, 2014
One Dead, 5 Hurt in Kompong Thom, Cambodia, UXO Blast

An elderly woman was killed and five others injured by an old B-40 rocket that exploded in Kompong Thom province on Friday when one of the victims attempted to dismantle it for scrap metal, according to local officials.
Sim Tam, 78, who was sitting near the rocket when it exploded, was hit with shrapnel from the device and died from her wounds on the way to the local hospital, said Brigadier General Hang Thol, provincial military police commander. Read more about Cambodia’s UXO problem at The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post.

May 26, 2014
For Vietnam, leftover American bombs mean the war has never ended

Nguyen Van Thi is a farmer, not a soldier, but with his missing limbs and severe burn scars, he epitomizes the brutal and ongoing aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Thi, 45, found a small explosive while tending to his crops back in 1999. Not knowing what it was, he picked up the device, brushed off the dirt and tapped it with his hoe.
It blew off his left hand. GlobalPost has the rest of the story.

May 25, 2014
Civilian Landmine Team Deploys to Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina To Support Local Efforts in Landmine-Contaminated Areas Affected by Widespread Flooding

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is deploying the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), a group of civilian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts, to Serbia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The QRF will arrive May 26 and work with local officials of both the Serbian and BiH Mine Action Centers to survey landmine-contaminated areas affected by the recent widespread floods.
Heavy rains in the Balkans have caused widespread flooding that has led to the possible shifting and uncovering of some of the 120,000 landmines remaining from the 1992-1995 conflict associated with the break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The flood waters also may have washed away many of the markers delineating the minefields. Read more at the Imperial Valley News.

May 13, 2014
Military destroys over 300 war-era bomblets in central Vietnam

More than 300 unexploded bomblets from a Vietnam War-era cluster bomb were collected and destroyed in the central province of Nghe An, VnExpress reported.
The site quoted Quynh Luu District’s military headquarters as saying that the bomblets were spread out over roughly 100 square meters in Quynh Thang Commune.
Local agencies say that the unexploded 50mm bomblets came from a cluster bomb that the US military dropped during the Vietnam War. From Thanh Nien News.

May 12, 2014
Disabled ambassador works to inspire UXO victims in Vietnam

A farmer in central Vietnam who lost his hand in a bomb explosion almost four decades ago is now an international ambassador working to raise awareness of the consequences of explosive remnants.
Pham Quy Thi, 59, is informally called the ‘one handed ambassador’ and has travelled to 30 nations around the world to give lectures and raise awareness in communities of the consequences of explosives left from the U.S. war in Vietnam. Get the rest at Tuoi Tre News.

May 6, 2014
Azerbaijan establishes special group for searching and disarming underwater mines

Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) will establish a special group for searching and disarming underwater mines and unexploded ordinances (UXO), chief operation expert of ANAMA Adil Aslanov told APA.
Aslanov said that mines and UXOs are regularly found in water basins, lakes and canals in Azerbaijan. Read more at APA.

May 6, 2014
NGOs continue to push UXO clearance in Quang Tri

Quang Tri Province in Vietnam’s central region is green again thanks to international NGOs who have made a tremendous push toward clearing war-era bombs and mines in recent years.
There’s still a long way to go, however.
Around 400,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) are believed to remain buried across 480,000 hectares of land in Quang Tri.
UXO can be found in residential areas, gardens and even under the floors of houses. See more of the story at Thanh Nien News.

May 5, 2014
Due South Brewing Company UXO American Strong Ale

The UXO pays homage to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians that have served in the US Military and “UXO is a term EOD Techs use meaning unexploded ordnance”. Due South founder and head brewer, Mike Halker, is a former EOD Tech himself and a portion of the proceeds will go to the EOD Warrior Foundation. Drink the full story in at Wine Compass.

May 2, 2014
Shoebury: Unexploded Bombs Close Beach

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has decided to temporarily close Shoebury East Beach.
The decision, taken in consultation with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), has been made after a number of recent discoveries of unexploded ordnance (UXO) on and near to East Beach and on neighbouring prohibited MOD foreshore.
Whilst the beach is closed, the MOD, who own the foreshore but license it to the council, are carrying out a survey of the area to assess the exact risk and potential number of UXO’s in that area. More on the news from Great Britain at heart.co.uk

May 1, 2014
Grenade kills two in Darfur’s Jebel Marra

Two girls were killed when a grenade detonated in Jebel Marra on Thursday.
One of the relatives of the girls told Radio Dabanga that Asma Ishag Adam (7) and Najwa Eisa Yahya (6) found the grenade this afternoon in the area of Dirbat.
“They picked it up and started playing with it, upon which the grenade exploded. They were killed instantly.” More at Radio Dabanga.

April 4: International Mine Awareness Day

Kulen Intl Mine Awareness Day 140404 01b

How often do we think about where we step?

Kulen Intl Mine Awareness Day 140404 01a

How often do we consciously note the placement of our feet?

Kulen Intl Mine Awareness Day 140404 02

How often do we veer from the path because we want to take a shortcut or see a different scene?

Kulen Intl Mine Awareness Day 140404 03

What is it like to live in a place where shortcuts can be deadly?

Today, we hike through a mountainous area of Cambodia that soldiers occupied during war. The fighting ended years ago, but the landmines remain. No one has ever come to clear them—only farmers who burn the hillsides before planting vegetables and fruit trees.

We meet a woman living on this mountainside. We chat with a family—husband, wife, daughter and grandson—taking the bananas they harvest to market. They are civilians, but they still live with the remnants of war.

It is simply coincidence that our hike today takes place on the International Day of Mine Awareness. Worldwide, millions of people live among fields and forests contaminated with landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Read more here.

NEWS ROUNDUP December 2013

Dec2013News

12/13/13

Kids Mistake Cluster Munition for Petanque Ball 

As reposted on the Legacies of War Facebook Page: Two children were killed in Saravanne Province on December 13. “Local authorities said that the explosion occurred when the boys used a device they found in the forest as a boule in a game of petanque.” Link to original article here.

 12/03/13
Canada Committee Passes Amended Cluster Munition Bill

After much debate, Canada’s Commons foreign affairs committee removed one word from the bill to ratify the country’s participation in a ban on cluster munitions, according to iPolitics. The contested bill would allow Canadian forces to help allies in using cluster munitions while on joint operations with countries that haven’t signed the ban – notably the United States. Read more here.

12/03/13
Cluster Bomb Ban Saves Thousands of Lives, Coalition Says

Five years ago today, the Convention on Cluster Munitions was signed in Oslo, setting the path toward a global ban on “bombies.” More than half the world’s countries have since joined (the United States has not). The ban prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of these weapons, which pose some of the greatest threats to post-war societies where they were used. There are many varieties of cluster bombs. One of the most common designs used in Laos was a large casing filled with hundreds of baseball-sized bombies. The casing opened in mid-air and the bombies scattered across the land. Millions remain in the soil today. They look like toys or rocks. They can blow when struck with a farmer’s hoe. A single bombie can kill anything within 30 meters. For more information on what’s happened since the Convention was signed, read today’s report from the Cluster Munition Coalition.

 

 

 

NEWS ROUNDUP November 2013

Nov2013News11/27/13
Canada Debates Controversial Cluster Munition Bill Clause

This week, heated debate is taking place in Canada over a controversial clause in proposed legislation to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the international ban in 2008, but it has yet to ratify the Convention, which prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. Debate centers on Section 11 of Bill C-6, which could allow the Canadian military to use or direct the use of cluster munitions in joint operations with countries that have not signed the Convention. More info from the CBC here.

 

11/20/13
Weapons Cache Found in Cambodia

“A cache of 130 AK-47 rifles, ammunition and two unexploded rockets have been found by a group of children in the Oral mountain range, Kampong Chhnang police officials said yesterday… The rifles were buried in a shallow hole and police are guarding the area while provincial police and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre decide how to proceed, he said. There are fears there may be unexploded mines in the area.” – Via the Phnom Penh Post

 

11/11/13
American Musician Keith Kenny Performs Benefit Concert in Laos

New Jersey native singer, songwriter and guitarist Keith Kenny was chosen to headline the “We Are Kind” benefit concert to raise money for UXO accident victims in Vientiane. Catch the video with Lao UXO accident survivors break dancing to Kenny’s song, “Limit is the Sky.” More on Kenny and his US Big Red Suitcase Tour here.

 

 

 

Bombs Threaten Lao Food Security – Rambling Spoon blog

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Nov. 9, 2010
Rambling Spoon

©2010 Jerry RedfernLaos is having its 15 minutes this week. As hundreds of foreigners gather in the capital for the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, stories of unexploded bombs are pouring forth. And yet, it’s but a trickle considering the issue’s gravity. If you’ve followed Rambling Spoon for a while, you know this. You know that old American bombs still devastate Laotian farmers and their families. You know that bombs, on average, kill or injure one person almost every day in Laos.

But allow me my soapbox one more time, as I post a few more photos from our most recent trip this year. READ MORE

Banning the Cluster Bomb – Rambling Spoon

By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
Aug. 1, 2010
Rambling Spoon

Banana farmerAn international treaty banning the cluster bomb takes effect today. Cluster bombs are large weapons that hold up to several hundred small explosives designed to scatter across the land when dropped from the air. They are deadly hazards to farmers in postwar societies around the world.

Farmers in Laos have faced these dangers for decades. Millions of cluster munitions remain in their soil since the U.S. bombing campaign ended nearly 40 years ago. Since then, more than 20,000 people have been killed or maimed in accidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO). Aside from soldiers, farmers account for the majority of UXO accident victims in Laos. Note: the United States has not signed the treaty banning cluster bombs—but 108 other countries have. READ MORE