Vietnam’s efforts to clear bombs and mines

(VOVworld) – More than 100,000 people have been killed and injured as a consequence of bombs and mines left over from the war. In addition to international support, the Vietnamese government spends approximately 100 million USD a year on overcoming the consequences of unexploded ordnance including protecting people’s lives and property and developing the economy in contaminated areas.

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The US army used more than 15 million tonnes of bombs and mines in the war in Vietnam, 4 times the amount used in World War 2. Vietnam has been ranked one of the countries most contaminated with unexploded bombs and mines in the world. 6.6 million hectares of land or 20% of Vietnam’s total area are contaminated with unexploded ordnance, which is scattered throughout the country but exists mainly in the central region.

Heavy consequences of unexploded ordnances

It is estimated that it will take hundreds of years for Vietnam to clear all this material. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Head of the National Action Program on Settling the Consequences of Unexploded Ordnance, known as Program 504, says: “Unexploded ordnance remains all over Vietnam and has affected socio-economic development and left severe consequences on people’s lives. Every year, approximately 1,500 people are killed and 2,500 injured, most of them children, as a consequence of this problem.”

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Vietnam needs more than 10 billion USD to clear out the bombs and mines and a huge amount of money to guarantee security in contaminated areas.

Vietnam’s efforts to overcome the consequences of UXO

Vietnam spends roughly 30 million USD on clearance every year while approximately 50 million USD is invested in resettlement and social security in contaminated areas. The government has put in place Program 504 with the aim of mobilizing domestic and international resources to minimize and eliminate the impact of bombs and mines on socio-economic development to ensure people’s safety and help any victim integrate back into social life. The Vietnam Mine Action Center (VNMAC) has been established to coordinate the activities of Program 504 and international support. Prime Minister Dung says: “Vietnam has achieved important results in overcoming the consequences of bombs and mines. Tens of thousands of hectares of land have been decontaminated. Vietnam has completed the zoning of contaminated areas. Many clearance projects have been implemented with positive results. However, much remains to be done.”

Increasing international cooperation to resolve bomb and mine contamination

International donors and foreign NGOs have provided equipment and financial support worth millions of USD to help Vietnam settle the consequences of unexploded ordnance. A number of countries including Germany, the UK, Australia, Ireland, Denmark, and the UK and nearly 40 international organizations have been helping Vietnam in bomb and mine clearance, awareness-raising, and supporting the victims. For example, in 2004 UNICEF decided to grant Vietnam 5 million USD in 5 years to raise children’s awareness of the problem in the 6 central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, and Da Nang. Since 1993 Vietnam has received 65 million USD from the US government to overcome the post-war consequences of bombs and mines. The two governments recently signed a memorandum of understanding on cleaning up unexploded ordnance. US ambassador to Vietnam David Shear says: “Our conclusion of this MOU today is an important step in following through our leaders’ shared vision. As the USD and Vietnam built a partnership, they start to share interesting values. We want to further deepen our cooperation on the UXO. Today’s signing establishes a long-term bilateral framework for a humanitarian mine-action cooperation between the US and Vietnam.”

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Vietnam’s program to surmount the consequences of unexploded ordnances has been the biggest of its kind in the world and has been praised by the international community. It has become a role model for other countries to follow.