PM chairs first session of UXO settlement committee, meets with AO victims’ association

Tuesday, 2018-08-07 14:49:01
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PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the first meeting of the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences in Hanoi, on August 7, 2018. (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)
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NDO – The National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Committee 701) held its first session, in Hanoi, on August 7, under the chair of its head, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Speaking at the meeting, PM Phuc hailed the committee’s efforts in making positive and effective changes in the settlement of unexploded ordnance and toxic chemicals leftover from the previous wars.

Affirming the importance and urgency of the work that bears humanitarian meaning for a war-wracked country such as Vietnam, the senior government leader urged the Steering Committee to detect any shortcomings and limitations to improve their operation in the future, contributing to protecting the environment and people's health in order to serve national socio-economic development and minimise the exposure to dioxin.

Agreeing with the necessary to build a map of dioxin and UXO contamination in Vietnam, the PM asked to clarify the roadmap for this work. He also requested Committee 701 to revise the policies and payment of allowances to those who participated in the resistance wars and were exposed to toxic chemicals/dioxin and their offspring, while offering health care, rehabilitation, aid and health management for victims of toxic UXO/chemicals and people living near post-war chemical exposure areas.

In addition, the agencies and ministries concerned should coordinate with localities to promote domestic and international cooperation to mobilise resources for the settlement of UXO and chemical toxins’ consequences. The PM said that the implementation of UXO clearance projects in the five provinces of Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Cao Bang, Quang Nam and Quang Tri, with capital from the State budget and Hungarian ODA, is highly necessary.

Reports at the meeting showed that last year the Steering Committee advised the Party and State leaders to include the content of cooperation in overcoming the consequences of landmines and toxic chemicals, after the wars in Vietnam, in several joint statements between Vietnam and the United States, Japan, Australia and Israel, in order to accelerate international cooperation and thereby the settlement work.

Committee 701 has implemented the first phase of a national survey project on mapping UXO and landmine contaminated areas. The survey has identified 9.116 out of 11,134 communes, wards and townships in the country that are polluted by UXO, accounting for 81.87%. The total area of landmine/UXO contaminated areas is more than 6.1 million ha. Mine clearance is currently undertaken at approximately 30,000-50,000 ha per year within the framework of the implemented projects concerned.

Regarding the treatment of toxic chemicals, the Ministry of Defence has actively coordinated with the US Agency for International Development to implement the dioxin treatment project at Da Nang Airport. So far, the project has been basically completed, with 160,000 m2 of land processed to meet national technical environmental standards.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (front row, centre) meet with delegates from the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Hanoi on August 7, 2018. (Photo: NDO/Tran Hai)

* Also on Tuesday, PM Phuc hosted a reception for members of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), during which he affirmed that Agent Orange (AO) victims are typical examples of those who do not surrender to fate, persisting in overcoming difficulties to rise in their lives.

On behalf of the Government, the senior leader conveyed his encouragement to all members of the association on the occasion of the 57th anniversary of the Agent Orange Catastrophe in Vietnam (1961-2018) and the Day for AO/Dioxin Victims (August 10).

He also expressed his gratitude for the efforts made by the association with many activities, especially the support to AO victims and their families. The VAVA has actively participated in the fight for justice for victims of AO/dioxin, attracting public attention in both the nation and international arena, as well as proposing to review and develop support policies for AO victims.

The PM suggested that the authorities, agencies, organisations, businesses and the community join hands to ease the pain of AO victims, while doing their best to help those who participated in the resistance wars and were infected with toxic chemicals, as well as AO victims, to fully enjoy the Party and State's policies. The authorities concerned at all levels should create the best conditions for the VAVA to fulfill its tasks, he added.

According to VAVA President, retired Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, the country has approximately 4.8 million people that have been exposed to toxic chemicals and 3 million AO victims, but only 350,000 resistance war participants exposed to toxic chemicals and their offspring receive monthly allowances. Up to now, the association has mobilised over VND1.7 trillion (US$73.3 million) to build 26 semi-boarding social support centres, support building houses and job seeking and provide allowance for hundreds thousands of AO victims. Along with that, the VAVA is facilitating the fight for justice for Vietnamese victims of AO/dioxin.