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As cluster bomb ban takes effect, the view from Laos

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Neither Israel nor the United States will attend. In fact, the US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Israel are not signatories to the treaty. The US, among others, has argued that cluster bombs are an effective military tool that saves their soldiers' lives. The US has also argued that it's shifting to "smart" cluster bombs that self-destruct or deactivate, reducing the risk to civilians.

Laos, the most bombed country in the world per capita, strongly backs the treaty. Between 1964 and 1973, the US dropped more than 2 million tons of ordnance in a campaign kept hidden from Congress and the public. Since then, about 20,000 civilians have been maimed or killed by unexploded bombs, according to Legacies of War, a Washington-based group that raises awareness about America's "secret war" in Laos.

Clearing the fields of Laos

Ping Souvanton's brother was one of those victims. She now works for Mines Advisory Group, and leads the all-female team clearing this field outside the school in central Laos.

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