A FUND-RAISING appeal to clear a village in Laos of unexploded bombs left from the Vietnam War has raised almost half a million pounds.
The Unlock the Land campaign, created by the Manchester-based charity the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), raised a total of £449,309, including £211,336 of matched funding from the UK Government.
This was made up of public donations as well as funds from a sponsored cycle ride through Bosnia and Herzegovina. The money will enable MAG teams in Khammouane province, Laos, to search and clear the village of Vangkhom, including agricultural land, of dangerous items.
The charity had initially sought to raise enough funds to deploy one team to clear 161,000 square metres of land (News, 29 April). The new total will allow it to deploy an additional team and clear more than 230,000 square metres: the equivalent of 32 football pitches. Education sessions will also be organised to promote safer behaviour and to raise awareness of the risks from potentially lethal items.
The British Ambassador to Laos, John Pearson, 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.”
The Unlock the Land appeal was supported by the actor Rosamund Pike, who is an MAG ambassador.