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The legacy of unexploded ordnance in Laos



Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. According to the Lao government, the United States dropped 260 million submunitions from cluster bombs on the country between 1964 and 1973, in an attempt to disrupt the transport of troops and supplies during the war mainly being fought in neighbouring Vietnam. Thirty per cent of these bomblets failed to explode. More than 50,000 people were killed or injured in accidents involving unexploded ordnance from 1964 to 2008, with 20,000 of those being since the war ended in 1974.
 
The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) is a local, non-profit organisation that helps rehabilitate survivors and other people with disabilities across Laos. Its visitor centre in the country’s capital, Vientiane, hosts a permanent exhibition that examines the legacy of unexploded ordnance in Laos and the work undertaken to help those injured by it.