Joining hands to settle consequences of bombs and mines

Thursday, 2019-04-04 11:41:46
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Post-war unexploded ordnances were discovered in the central province of Quang Tri. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO - Vietnam is one of the countries most contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXO). It is estimated that more than 6.1 million hectares of land or 18.71% of Vietnam’s total area are contaminated with about 800,000 tonnes of bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances left from wars, which are scattered over all 63 cities and provinces in the country, with the central region the hardest hit.

Post-war bombs and mines have remained a daily threat to people and a headache for the Vietnamese Government. Between 1975 and now, bombs and mines killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 others. Many people have lost their lives or suffered the loss of a part of their body or lost their loved ones. The consequences of landmine and UXO contamination have also limited socio-economic development and has become an obstacle to Vietnam’s sustainable development goals.

Over the past few years, the Party and the State have paid great attention to the work, and rolled out major policies and guidelines to help overcome the consequences, especially supporting victims of landmines and toxic chemicals after the war, with a focus on Quang Tri, Quang Nam, Binh Dinh and Ha Giang provinces along with the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam has decontaminated from 40,000-50,000 hectares of land each year. However, it will take more than a century to clear all bombs and mines in the country, with an estimated cost of over US$10 billion, excluding spending on resettlement and social welfare work in the danger zones.

In order to create a legal basis for organisation and management of activities to overcome UXO consequences, the Prime Minister approved a national action programme on settling the consequences of unexploded ordnance, known as Programme 504, now the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Office 701). It is tasked with working with individuals and organisations at home and abroad to promote activities overcoming the consequences of bombs, mines and toxic chemicals left over from the war, thus ensuring the safety of people and environment in service of socio-economic development.

Many programmes on assisting UXO victims’ reintegration have been implemented. To date, over 1 million people with severe and particularly severe disabilities (including UXO victims) are being provided with monthly social allowance and health insurance cards. A network of social support facilities has been formed and developed nationwide, with 418 social support facilities, including 73 facilities for people with disabilities and 45 specialised social work centres. This network provides rehabilitation services, vocational training and social work for people with disabilities.

To help settle bomb and mine consequences, ministries, agencies and localities nationwide have actively coordinated with international organisations to remove war-left bombs, mines and chemicals. It is necessary to review relevant policies and laws, step up cooperation in this regard and increase information dissemination in order to raise public awareness of the work.

In addition, a roadmap is needed to devise a map of dioxin, bomb and mine contaminated hotspots in Vietnam in order to effectively deal with bombs, mines and toxic chemicals, facilitate international cooperation, scientific research and technological development in the field, as well as to provide support for victims.