Palau Acts On Pacific Forum’s Unexploded Ordnance Plan

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WWII bombs still pose a threat to regional development

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Oct. 23, 2012) – Palau will be hosting a three-day meeting this week on the implementation of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Regional UXO Strategy.

The Ministry of State said that the meeting, which will be held at Ngarachamayong Cultural Center on October 24-26, aims to catalyze efforts at the regional and national levels to overcome challenges in addressing problems caused by explosive remnants of war, with a special emphasis on PIF member states which have indicated that they are affected by explosive remnants of war.

State Min. Victor Yano, in his invitation to Olbiil Era Kelulau leaders, said that PIF leaders have expressed concern at the continuing existence of unexploded WWII ordnance or UXO in the 42nd PIF communiqué.

The leaders have reportedly indicated in the communiqué that UXO remains a human security problem for many member states as well as a threat to public health, safety and the environment.

Yano said the leaders also recognized that UXO poses serious obstacle to development.

Yano said the leaders have welcomed the development of Regional UXO Strategy Framework as a practical approach to addressing the challenges of UXO in the region and called on the assistance of relevant international bodies and development partners in addressing this long-neglected issue.

According to the minister, a draft Regional UXO Strategy has since been prepared by the PIF Secretariat as a framework to coordinate international and regional activities and resources to support the development of national UXO policies and action plans and the implementation of national UXO initiatives.

Yano said that Pacific island communities that have lived with the dangers of explosive remnants of war for many decades welcome this as a step forward.

Currently, a British non-profit organization known as Cleared Ground Demining has been helping Palau in removing WWII ordnances especially in the states of Koror, Peleliu and Angaur. The group has been visiting schools as well to educate and warn the students about ordnance.

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