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Chue Por, injured by a cluster munition at the age of 17


Armed violence reduction | Laos | PUBLISHED ON September 4th 2023
Photo of Chue Por Vang in Laos.

© N. Lozano / HI

Chue Por is the survivor of a cluster munition in which he lost his arm. With the support of HI, he has regained his mobility.

An explosive residue mistaken for a spinning top

In December 2006, while the inhabitants of the village of Houay Hou (Houaphan province, eastern Laos) were organising the Hmong New Year festival known as "Noj Peb Caug", Chue Por, 17 at the time, took part with other young people in a spinning top tournament, a traditional activity during these celebrations. During the match, his top was thrown off course and landed in the nearby stream.

As he was trying to retrieve it, he saw a metal object that he thought would make a perfect spinning top. He picked it up and started shaping it with a knife. But the metal object was a cluster munition. It exploded causing very serious damage to his left hand.

Chue Por was rushed to hospital unconscious. He woke up to discover his hand had been amputated:

"Before my accident, I really had no idea that there were explosive remnants of war around my village...This terrible accident could have been avoided."

The accident had serious consequences. Chue Por dropped out of school, feeling "too different" from the other pupils. His relatives borrowed money to pay for his hospital treatment and had to sell their livestock to pay their debts, leaving them in dire financial difficulties.

From rehabilitation to advocacy campaigns

HI identified Chue Por in 2019 and referred him to a rehabilitation centre where he was fitted with a prosthesis.

“Thanks to HI, I am receiving physical and psychological help.”

Since then, Chue Por has taken part in various training courses supported by HI, including one on the rights of people with disabilities. HI has also helped him attend important events such as a national workshop on strategic planning for the victim assistance sector and a regional workshop on setting up a victim assistance network.

“Today, I can clearly see the positive changes in my life: I'm happy to be with my family and to look after my livestock."

Chue Por has even taken part in campaigns to raise awareness of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Mine Ban Treaty and other international frameworks aimed at preventing the use of explosive remnants of war and mines.

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