The legacy of unexploded ordnance in Laos
More than 260 million bomblets were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam WarPaola Di Bella
Nearly a third of the bomblets dropped on Laos failed to detonatePaola Di Bella
This Lao boy lost both his hands in an accidental bomblet explosionPaola Di Bella
A bomblet. A quarter of all Lao villages contain unexploded ordnancePaola Di Bella
Over the past decade, there have been around 300 new casualties a yearPaola Di Bella
Various prostheses are available for those injured by unexploded ordnancePaola Di Bella
Around 40 per cent of casualties are childrenPaola Di Bella
COPE now uses durable polypropylene to make prostheses in its workshopsPaola Di Bella
Cluster bomb casings are often used to make objects such as cups and bowlsPaola Di Bella
The main area of the permanent exhibition of the COPE visitor centrePaola Di Bella
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.