FILE - In this July 26, 2018, file photo, a man paddles his boat through a flooded village after a dam in southeastern Laos collapsed, in the Sanamxay district, Attapeu province, Laos. A United Nations human rights expert is urging Laos to focus less on big, foreign-invested dam and railway contracts and devote more resources to helping its children and the poor. Philip Alston, the U.N. rapporteur on poverty, said Laos’ economy can only thrive if its leaders do a better job of educating and caring for all of its people.(AP Photo/Hau Dinh, File)

UN expert: Outlook grim for victims of Laos dam collapse

March 29, 2019 - 1:38 am

BANGKOK (AP) — A U.N. expert on human rights says hundreds of people displaced by the collapse of a dam in Laos face bleak prospects for recovering their homes and livelihoods.

Philip Alston, the U.N. rapporteur on poverty, said Friday in an interview that questions over who's responsible for the collapse of the dam in southeastern Laos are slowing progress toward recovery.

At least 40 people died and dozens went missing when an auxiliary dam of the joint venture hydroelectric project gave way on July 25.

Alston said conditions in at least two temporary resettlement villages were "really grim" and the land authorities are offering the 3,750 people still in limbo is rocky and infertile. Many victims who once supported their families by fishing and farming likely will be forced into contract labor.