A fundraising appeal backed by actor Rosamund Pike has raised almost half a million pounds to clear a village in Laos of unexploded bombs left behind from the Vietnam war.
In Laos, the world’s most heavily bombed country per capita, the village of Vangkhom can now see a safer and more hopeful future thanks to supporters of the Manchester-based charity the Mines Advisory Group (MAG).
Unlock the Land – a campaign led by MAG to raise funds for vital clearance of unexploded bombs in the village – was supported by the UK government, who matched all donations. It was also launched and supported by Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor, and MAG Ambassador, Rosamund Pike.
Thanks to record donations from the public – plus a sponsored bike ride through Bosnia and Herzegovina – a total of £449,309 was raised, including £211,336 of match funding from the UK government.
The money will enable MAG teams in Khammouane province, Laos, to carefully search and clear the village, including precious agricultural land, of dangerous items.
John Pearson, British Ambassador to Laos, said: “I have visited Vangkhom village in Khammouane province, and seen the scale of the devastation caused during the Vietnam war. The clearance work that MAG is doing is so important – it will mean that fields can be farmed again, that children can safely attend the local school, and that water wells can be used. I am so pleased that the UK government is funding this activity, which is vital for the development of Laos and its people." The campaign initially aimed to raise sufficient funds to deploy one team to clear 161,000m2 of land in Vangkhom. Thanks to the public’s phenomenal support and with the UK government matching donations, MAG will now deploy an additional team and clear up over 230,000m2, the equivalent of 32 football pitches. Risk education sessions will also be organised to raise awareness of the risks associated with potentially lethal items and promote safer behaviour.
Vangkhom, which was hit by more than 6,000 bombing missions during the Vietnam war, has been suffering ever since from its deadly legacy. Thanks to this fundraising campaign, MAG teams will now work together with the community to help provide it with the future it deserves.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is a global humanitarian and advocacy organisation that finds, removes and destroys landmines, cluster munitions and unexploded bombs from places affected by conflict.
MAG also provides education programmes, particularly for children, so people can live, work and play as safely as possible until they clear the land.
The organisation, which employs some 5,800 people in 30 countries, also delivers work to reduce armed violence by educating people about the risks of small arms and light weapons and by destroying and marking weapons and helping authorities to safely store arms and ammunition.
Since 1989, MAG has helped over 20 million people in 70 countries rebuild their lives after war. In 1997, MAG shared the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in banning landmines.
More info: https://www.maginternational.org
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