11/28/2008, 00.00
LAOS
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Walking to school through the minefields

There are still thousands of unexploded bombs in Laos, in the rice paddies, in the forest, under the ground. For more than 30 years, every day they have made at least one victim.

Vientiane (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Walking to school through the minefields. This is what happens every day in Laos, where thousands of unexploded American bombs and mortars still lie buried underground, from the of Vietnam War.

Since the peace of 1975, a among 6.7 million inhabitants in the country there have been 10,500 deaths, and 11,500 injuries from the explosion of hidden bombs, about one a day for 30 years. Many have died a while looking for metal, or even explosives: a kilogram of scrap metal brings at least 3 dollars, a lot of money in a country where 40% of the population is malnourished, and less than half have drinking water, according to official UN figures.

During the war, the U.S. military placed thousands of bombs to destroy the roads to Vietnam. About a third of them did not explode, and have remained under the rice paddies and in the forest.

More than 63,000 bombs were planted in the entire province, but it is difficult to identify them.

Mark Hiznary of the NGO Human Rights Watch explains that "they are about the size of a D-cell battery and have a ribbon hanging from them that just makes a kid want to go and pick it up and twirl it around with their fingers too - which will arm it and function it very quickly."

Now the government and humanitarian groups are trying to warn students of the danger, through their teachers.

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