Việt Nam calls for more int’l support in war consequence settlement

March 27, 2019 - 10:51

Việt Nam wants the international community to join efforts in dealing with war consequences, helping the country develop sustainably and participate in UN peacekeeping operations more actively.

Vast tracts of forest in the south of Việt Nam were devastated by the highly toxic Agent Orange that US army used as defoliant in the war in Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS File Photo
Viet Nam News

NEW YORK — Việt Nam wants the international community to assist in dealing with war consequences, helping the country develop sustainably and actively take part in UN peacekeeping operations.

This was the message the country conveyed at an international workshop held by the Office of the Standing Agency of the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Office 701) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York on March 25 (local time).

Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen. Nguyễn Chí Vịnh thanked international friends, especially the UNDP, for helping Việt Nam overcome war consequences over the years.

Việt Nam is a symbol for efforts to move on from war to step into a new development period, and a symbol of international cooperation, including countries which made war in Việt Nam, he said.

Vịnh attributed the results to the Vietnamese Government’s endeavours to recognise Việt Nam as a country of peace and safety.

However there are still difficulties ahead, the official stressed, and further support from the international community is crucial, according to the deputy minister.

Asako Okai, Assistant Secretary General of the UN, UNDP Deputy Director General and Director of the UNDP Crisis Bureau, acknowledged the challenges facing Việt Nam.

These challenges might lie in climate change or global financial uncertainties and would affect financial resources for war consequence settlement, she said.

Given this, the UNDP planned to support Việt Nam, especially through existing projects coordinated by the UNDP and funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), aiming to cope with climate change and clear bombs and mines, she said.

The UNDP also deployed projects that support Vietnamese bomb and mine victims, she added.

Caitlin Wiesen, a representative of UNDP Việt Nam, spoke of cooperation between Việt Nam and the US in war consequence settlement over the years.

Other international delegates lauded Việt Nam’s efforts in handling war aftermaths and participating in UN peacekeeping, as well as effective collaboration between Việt Nam and the UNDP, foreign countries and international organisations in this regard.

They said they were impressed by development in Việt Nam, which emerged from one of the world’s poorest countries to become a middle-income earner in just 25 years and completed most of UN Millennium Development Goals at the national level before the 2015 deadline.

Results in war consequence settlement in Việt Nam  significantly contributed to the fulfilment of these goals, they said.

They also committed to continuing their assistance to the country to ease plight caused by the war, thus contributing to peace and sustainable development in the world.

A caretaker feeds children afflicted with disfigurement caused by Agent Orange in the Hoà Bình Peace Village, part of Từ Dũ Hospital in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc

In an interview with Vietnam News Agency, Vịnh said Việt Nam was willing to share its experience and support with the international community in dealing with war aftermaths.

Việt Nam hadsent military health workers and officers, and would dispatch sappers to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, he said.

War consequence settlement would be combined with issues regarding the environment, development and science so that each related project would benefit national development as well as international relations, he said.

According to Office 701, although the war in Việt Nam ended 44 years ago, its consequences have remained severe as a large amount of toxic chemicals used during the war are still affecting human health and the environment.

The work, therefore, has met various difficulties, especially with limited funds.

In 2019, the office will continue to implement projects on dioxin remediation at Biên Hoà Airport in the southern region, and expects to treat 35 per cent of the contaminated land and review all people who participated in the war and their children exposed to the chemicals by 2020.

Statistics released by the Việt Nam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin show that there are still more than 3 million Vietnamese people affected.

During 1961-71, some 80 million litres of herbicides were sprayed onto 2.63 million hectares of land in Southern Việt Nam, 60 percent of which were AO/dioxin, the Ministry of National Defence said.

It is estimated more than 2 million hectares of forest and some 20,000 villages were affected, with about 2.1-4.8 million people exposed to the deadly chemicals.

As of 2018, about 320,000 people fighting in the war and their children who were exposed to the chemicals had benefitted from social policies.

Between 1964-75, Việt Nam suffered from more than 16 million tonnes of bombs and mines, four times more than those used during all of World War I.

All 63 cities and provinces in the country are contaminated with unexploded devices, with total poisoned area amounting to some 6.1 million ha or 18.71 per cent of national area.

The international seminar saw the attendance of Vietnamese Ambassador Đặng Đình Quý, head of the Vietnamese mission to the UN; representatives from relevant Vietnamese ministries and agencies; and delegates from the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the UK, France, Canada, some ASEAN countries, along with those from the EU, the UN and international organisations. — VNS